PICTURES EDDIE WHITHAM
KEVIN Brown scored a match winning hat trick to guide Warrington Wolves to a Challenge Cup victory over his former club Widnes – to set up a quarter final tie against another former club and derby clash with Wigan.
Brown, who arrived from the Halton Stadium for an undisclosed fee in the close season, shrugged off a hostile reception from the visiting supporters with a man of the match display.
His third try gave Warrington a final lead that they wouldn’t surrender, eventually going on to win 34-20.
A depleted Vikings were first on the scoresheet, Greg Burke crashing over from close range under the posts on 15 minutes.
The Wolves were only behind for five minutes though, a break down the left by Benjamin Julien saw him dragged in to touch by Rhys Hanbury, illegally according to referee James Child.
From the resulting field position, Ryan Atkins powered over from close range and Stefan Ratchford levelled the score at 6-6.
The first real indication of Brown’s decisive impact on the game came on 24 minutes when he stole the ball from Patrick Ah Van, after the Widnes winger had caught a high kick close to his own line.
The subsequent desperation in defence by the Vikings saw full back Hanbury sinbinned.
It didn’t take long for the Wolves to make their numerical advantage pay, Brown running at and dummying through the line for a trademark try.
Widnes looked to be wobbling, but they managed to steady the ship as the half wore on and the Wolves had to settle for a 12-6 interval lead.
The Vikings started positively in the second half and were back on terms within five minutes, young prop Jay Chapelhow reaching over from close range for a try that Ah Van goaled from wide out.
Widnes built on their momentum and took the lead shortly after, Ah Van tagging on a penalty after the Wolves failed to clear the ruck.
The lead lasted barely two minutes though. Hanbury couldn’t hold on to a Manase Manuokafoa offload and the gifted field position culminated in Brown scoring a try in front of the travelling supporters, much to his delight.
Although Ratchford missed the conversion from a fairy straight forward position, Brown enabled him to add a penalty on a few minutes later following an interference call and the Wolves led 20-14.
Widnes wouldn’t go away, and a terrific break by 17-year-old hooker Danny Walker against his hometown club put Ah Van in for a try under the posts for 20-all.
Widnes turned the screw and forced a number of repeat sets through penalties and a drop out.
But a spilled ball by Eamon O’Carroll relieved the pressure and after a penalty sent the Wolves to the other end they took the lead.
Brown looked to be held up over the line by four Widnes defenders, but stretched out to touch down for a try that was correctly awarded by the video referee despite the on field call to the contrary.
The Wolves had the ascendancy in the final quarter and they scored the decisive try on 73 minutes, Matty Russell crossing in the right corner.
There was icing on the cake late on as Chris Hill, perhaps fortunate not to spend time in the sinbin for an earlier incident with Walker, waltzed in under the posts.