Batley Bulldogs missed out on a place in the last eight of the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup after suffering a 26-22 defeat to Super League side Widnes Vikings.
Despite fighting back from 26-6 down, John Kear’s side could not progress beyond the Vikings who go on to face St Helens in the last eight of the competition.
Lloyd White crossed first for Widnes with Jack Owens adding the goal but Alex Rowe instantly responded, dotting down after Chris Clarkson’s error for the hosts.
Kevin Brown’s looping kick was pounced on by Patrick Ah Van who barged over and Brown’s quick fire double gave the hosts a commanding 20-6 half-time advantage.
Widnes appeared to have put the game beyond doubt as Cameron Phelps touched down, with Owens grabbing his third conversion, before Batley hit the front foot.
Wayne Reittie grabbed a double either side of Matt Fozard’s score but the Bulldogs fell agonisingly short of a quarter-final spot and a tie with the Super League giants.
Batley started the stronger of the two sides and would have scored first had a forward pass not hampered their fluent attacking play but Widnes chances were at a premium thanks to Batley’s steely reserve.
The Vikings seized the initiative against the run of play when Kevin Brown and Matt Whitley linked to send Lloyd White through to score between the posts, with Jack Owens converting.
The visitors levelled three minutes later when Alex Rowe pounced on a lapse in concentration from Widnes to power over with Scott Leatherbarrow adding the extras.
Three tries in six minutes for the hosts put them back in command with Patrick Ah Van bulldozing over Bulldogs’ Wayne Reittie to score before Kevin Brown twice barged through.
The frantic scoring continued after the interval when Cameron Phelps crossed after good work from Whitley and Owens with the latter kicking the points but Batley’s attacking play intensified.
Reittie grabbed a try after taking Scott Leatherbarrow’s kick and Matt Fozard ran in unopposed after James Brown’s clever offload, Leatherbarrow converted to reduce the gap to just 10 points.
A second try in the corner for Reittie, after a sublime dummy from James Craven, and Leatherbarrow goal cut the gap to four points with 12 minutes left but sadly there was to be no fairy tale ending for the Bulldogs.