Widnes squandered a golden opportunity to set up a much-needed tie with a Super League club in the sixth round of the Challenge Cup by going down to Batley 18-14 at the weekend.

For long parts of the game, Widnes looked to be exercising enough control to see them home, but only registering eight points in the first 60 minutes despite their apparent edge came back to bite.

Led from the front by vice-captain Rhodri Lloyd in the pack, Widnes showed encouraging signs with a high completion rate, good kick pressure and solid defence that restricted Batley from getting too much ball in their half.

Joe Lyons dummied over for a first half try and his half-back partner Tom Gilmore was held up over the line in similar fashion, though he did manage to add two goals to give the hosts an 8-0 advantage at half time.

Batley came out much brighter in the second half and unlike in the first half, Widnes failed to get over a sluggish start and were eventually punished for individual errors having squandered a number of field position opportunities with poor dummy half passing and knock ons.

The Bulldogs registered three tries in a 10 minute spell in the final quarter of the game, and though Nick Gregson’s try under the posts gave Widnes late hope, there was barely a minute left on the clock.

Perhaps summing up the nature of the second half, Widnes were not even able to set up a play off the back of a scrum for a knock on and the hooter sounded just as they went down for the first tackle.

Given the current fan apathy at the DCBL Stadium following the Chris Hamilton social media debacle at the start of the year, a home game against a Warrington or St Helens would have been the perfect chance to get bodies back in the ground and give the club a much needed boost.

However, they will once again be rueing a defeat and must instead now focus solely on the Championship league season, having also bowed out of the 1895 Cup in the group stages.

It was another disappointing result against Batley, who have finished above Widnes in each of the last five Championship seasons they have competed in together, including 2011.

Batley have proved themselves to be the model of consistency for part-time clubs, punching well above their weight in terms of crowds and finances.

Since Widnes were relegated from Super League at the end of 2018, they have been beaten in six of the 10 matches they’ve faced Batley.

The most disappointing of those was undoubtedly the 48-16 hammering they suffered at Mount Pleasant in 2021, where the Bulldogs ran in 38 unopposed second half points in what was arguably the worst defensive performance by a Widnes team in many years.

The other game against Batley that springs to mind is the heartbreaking 2010 Northern Rail Cup final loss in 2010, where Batley came from 24-15 down to win 25-24 thanks to Alex Brown’s two late tries.

Last season, there was only 35 points in total in the two league meetings – won 11-4 at Batley in Yorkshire, and 12-4 by Widnes in the return fixture, and they’ll have to wait until later in the season to meet again – in Widnes on June 30, and Batley on September 1.