Halifax RLFC 10-34 Widnes Vikings
Brown inspires Widnes fightback
Widnes overcame a scare to move into the fifth round of the Tetley's Challenge Cup at the expense of a game Halifax side.
The Championship outfit led 10-6 at the break, but the superb Kevin Brown inspired the Vikings to what eventually was a comfortable 34-10 win - at least as far as the scoreboard suggested.
The first half was largely dominated by Halifax, and it was the Championship side who took the lead when a smart kick from Scott Murrell was collected by loanee Tommy Saxton, who had the vision to send full-back Ryan Fieldhouse over.
After doing plenty of defending in the following minutes, Halifax were able to streak up-field and extend their lead even further. Murrell was once again the chief architect, this time his fantastic kick finding winger Gareth Potts, who touched down in the corner to delight the home supporters at The Shay.
However, the visitors from Super League upped their game following that early scare, and they got back into it when Jon Clarke charged in under the posts to make it a four-point game. Despite that try, the Vikings were unable to breach a stern Halifax defence for the remainder of the first period, with the home side holding firm on several nervy occasions.
Steve Tyrer then attempted an audacious penalty attempt with less than a minute left on the clock in a bid to further extend the lead - but he pulled it wide, leaving the game finely poised at 10-6 at the break.
That missed penalty looked a crucial one at the interval, and it was not long into the second period before Widnes finally made some more great field position count. Jon Clarke provided a magnificent flat ball for Vikings captain Brown, who darted over. Danny Tickle converted, and Widnes led for the first time.
That led was quickly extended, too. Brown was again involved, this time with his pinpoint kick finding Paddy Flynn in the corner to score Widnes' third try of the afternoon. Brown was having a marvellous afternoon with the boot - and it was not long before he created another try.
His teasing, testing kick found Declan Hulme in the left corner, who leapt highest to touch the ball down. All of a sudden, Widnes' lead was out to 12.
Halifax continued to throw everything they had at their Super League opposition, but the Vikings were standing firm in defence. And that sternness paid dividends, as a fifth try confirmed the result with 10 minutes left. Former Halifax man Phil Joseph barged his way over beyond a tiring defence to touch down, with Tickle's kick nudging the score to 28-10.
With the result long assured, Halifax were beginning to chance their arm in attack.
However, that only served to create more opportunities for the Vikings, and the superb Brown pounced on a loose ball from Murrell to go the length of the field, and grab his second try of the afternoon.