Widnes boss Denis Betts saluted Championship outfit Batley after his side’s nervy passage into the quarter finals with a 26-22 victory.
The Vikings looked home and dry when they led 26-6 before the Bulldogs hit back with two tries from Wayne Reittie and another from sub Matt Fozzard to set up a nerve-jangling finish.
Skipper Kevin Brown scored two tries for Widnes and set up others for Lloyd White and Patrick Ah Van.
But Betts, whose side go to St Helens in the quarter-finals, said: “The positive is that we are in the next round but the players are disappointed with their performance.
“Our energy and enthusiasm was down but all credit to Batley.
“We had them a couple of times but let them off the hook and back in the game.
“The energy they showed was fantastic and they came with a really tough edge to them.
“I never feared the worst because I always felt we had the resilience.”
Batley had outstanding forwards in try scorer Alex Rowe and James Brown and boss John Kear said: “It was a great effort and that’s what the Challenge Cup is all about. We were the minnows, underdogs and written off but had a growing belief in ourselves.
“I’m sure everyone enjoyed it in the stadium and it was great for the Widnes fans to give us a standing ovation at the end.
“Alex Rowe has always had that in his locker and I told my players to watch out for Kevin Brown in their side.
“But we had our own Brown star in James and full-back James Craven showed how good he is too. We showed a great deal of belief, desire and mental toughness and really dug deep at the well.
“Widnes got nervy and we got excited near the end to make it a thrilling cup tie.”
Widnes: Owens, Ah Van, Marsh, Phelps, Flynn, Brown, Mellor, Dudson, White, Joseph, Clarkson, Whitley, Isa. Substitutes: Heremaia, Manuokafoa, Leuluai, Dean.
Batley: Craven, Reittie, Faal, Bretherton, Ainscough, Leak, Leatherbarrow, Gledhill, Blake, Rowe, Scott, Day, Brown. Substitutes: Chandler, Fozzard, Lillycrop, Hesketh.
Referee: J Cobb (RFL).