Rugby League: Old cup kings given fright by Bramley

Bramley 20 Widnes 28
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The Independent Online
Widnes, the Challenge Cup kings of the 70s and early 80s, are within one match of Wembley, but only after a magnificent battle from a club that has only won one prize in its history.

It might have been that new-fangled piece of crockery, the Silk Cup Plate, at stake yesterday, but this was still a classic cup tie.

Bramley finished next to bottom of the Second Division last year, but something, apart from simply moving in with their neighbours at Headingley, has clearly happened to them over the winter.

They overcame the handicap of an early 16-point deficit to lead at half- time and were only deprived of a home semi-final against Hunslet, by two Widnes tries in the last 12 minutes.

The first quarter of the match seemed to be following a predictable pattern with Widnes scoring tries at five-minute intervals, two from John Donno and one from Phil Kendrick, thanks to their ability to catch out the Bramley defence with breaks from their own half.

Bramley's response showed there can be a bright future for a club which has often been on the verge of going out of business.

Perhaps inspired by a parade of the players who won the Floodlit Trophy for the club 23 years ago, the present-day representatives tore into Widnes and repaired that early damage.

First Dean Blankley's pass sent in Steve Barnett, then the Widnes full- back, Jamie Bloem, spilled a high kick to allow Nick Render to score. Five minutes before half-time, Damien Pickles went over and, with the addition of Dean Creasser's three conversions, Bramley were in front.

They extended that lead with Creasser's fourth goal after the break and then rode the luck that their determined defence deserved as Widnes had three touchdowns disallowed.

They held out until the 68th minute before the pressure finally told, Phil Waring's pass releasing Jim Cassidy for the equalising score and Ben Lythe kicking the goal to put Widnes ahead.

The try that gave Widnes a flattering winning margin was both fortunate and controversial, Bloem's attempted drop goal coming back off the post to an offside Waring.

Bramley: Pitts; Stead, Creasser, Sharp, Brown; Barnett, Blankley; Currie, Marquez-Laynez, Hall, G Freeman, W Freeman, Render. Substitutes used: Gibson, McKie, Pickles, Williamson.

Widnes: Bloem; Nelson, D Myler, Kendrick, Smith; Waring, Lythe; Connor, Donno, Hansen, Harrison, P Myler, Cassidy. Substitutes used: Borniley, Cooper, Hunter, Cunningham.

Referee: D Atkin (Hull).

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