The final game of Round Ten of the Championship took place in front of the Viaplay cameras at the Fox´s Biscuit Stadium as sixth placed Batley Bulldogs took on a Widnes Vikings side which started the game in fourth place in the table.
A forty-three-point win for Craig Lingard´s side would lift them above their opponents and into the top four while John Kear´s men needed a massive victory to go above the Sheffield Eagles and into third spot.
Batley were slight favourites with the bookies, but they were struggling to find much between the sides, Widnes getting just a two-point start on the handicap coupon for the Bank Holiday Monday game.
The Vikings were attacking up the famous six-foot slope in the opening forty but had to make an early change as Kyle Amor replaced Danny Craven in the opening minutes.
Widnes had a try ruled out on nine minutes for a forward pass when Jack Owens had seeming found Kieran Dixon in space to go in. Widnes were having the best of the play and most of the action was inside the Batley half.
But it was Batley who scored the first try with Lucas Walshaw taking the pass to cross on fifteen minutes as he took the inside pass after a Ben White break down the right side. Luke Hooley added the conversion for a 6-0 lead.
After being awarded a penalty on the Widnes ten, Hooley kicked a simple penalty goal to extend the lead by two points. After being backs to the wall in the opening ten minutes, Batley were starting to rattle their visitors.
A beautiful break from Widnes, Zach Eckersley and Ryan Ince combining with neat passing for Eckersley to go in, but referee Smaill disallowed the scintillating try for a forward pass, Batley managing to keep the Vikings pointless in the first half, thanks to riding their luck.
As expected, Widnes took the game to Batley in the opening minutes of the second half with the slope advantage but once again it was Batley who scored the first points of the second half on fifty-five with a Hooley penalty from thirty-five metres out after a high tackle.
As Widnes started to push for the all-important first try, they started making mistakes, much to the delight of the Bulldogs and their supporters.
As the game entered the last ten minutes the home side guarded their ten-point advantage, the Vikings still not troubling the scorers.
On seventy-one Widnes grounded the ball again, this time Matthew Fozard pouncing on a loose ball, but the referee ruled a push on the Batley defender Dale Morton by Dixon.
With six minutes remaining the Vikings finally opened their account to set up a grandstand finish. Fozard made the try with a great break before drawing to defenders and passing outside to Eckersley who sprinted forty metres down the wing to score. Jack Owens was unable to add the conversion, Widnes still six adrift.
When Widnes spilled the ball on their own forty, Batley used five tackles to set up the drop goal and Josh Woods was composed enough to find the target from eighteen metres to seal the win at 11-4.
A hard fought, but fully deserved, win for the Bulldogs who will draw great strength from defeating a top our side as they look to seal a play-off place at the end of the season. There can be no doubt that the changes enforced by the early loss of Craven knocked the Vikings off their step as they lacked that little bit of spark in attack. Neither side change their position in the league table, but Batley join Widnes and Halifax on twelve league points.
Batley Bulldogs: Hooley (3G), Morton, Hodson, Kear, McGowan, White, Woods (DG), Gledhill, Kaye, Lilycrop, Buchanan, Walshaw (T), Reilly. Subs: Burton, Hirst, Flynn, Ward. 18th Man: Senior.
Widnes Vikings: Fleming, Ince, Eckersley (T), Edge, Dixon, Craven, Owens, Farnworth, Fozard, Field, Wilde, Lawton, Johnstone. Subs: Amor, Walker, Hatton, Jones. 18th Man: Roberts.
Score Progression: 4-0, 6-0, 8-0 : HT: 10-0, 10-4, 11-4 : FT.
Lead Exchanges: Batley.
Referee: Mike Smaill.