Kurt Gidley rides to Warrington\'s rescue again to defeat Widnes
Kurt Gidley kicked a late penalty for the second week in a row to earn his side a 20-18 victory as Warrington edged out local rivals Widnes to reach the last four of the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup.
A week after his goal earned the Wolves two precious Super League points at the expense of Catalans Dragons, the veteran Australian kept his nerve to help his side close out a tense quarter-final at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.
Warrington, who were Wembley winners three times in four years up to 2012, were not at their best but they showed tremendous character to hold off their spirited visitors.
Widnes, who lost twice to their near neighbours in Super League this year, gifted their opponents a perfect attacking platform when skipper Kevin Brown kicked out on the full from his own 20-metre line.
And Warrington took advantage with second rower Jack Hughes racing onto Gidley\'s inside pass and bouncing off Hep Cahill\'s attempted tackle to touch down for a try that Gidley goaled.
But the Wolves, who were forced to move second rower Ben Currie to centre when Ryan Atkins went off with a head knock, failed to build on their promising start.
The Vikings gradually began to settle into the game and hit their hosts with two tries in three minutes to take a 12-6 lead.
Scrum-half Joe Mellor pounced on a handling error by his opposite number Chris Sandow, hacking the ball on and picking up to touch down.
Rhys Hanbury\'s conversion levelled the scores and Widnes went in front when replacement second rower Matt Whitley picked up the ball after Lloyd White\'s grubber kick bounced back off a defender\'s legs and sidestepped his way through a fragmented defence.
Hanbury kicked his second goal but Warrington pulled a try back five minutes before half-time when left winger Kevin Penny won the race to George King\'s clever grubber kick.
Sandow was denied a try just before the break thanks to a ball strip by Chris Houston and was brought down just short of the line early in the second half while Currie lost the ball attempting to barge his way over.
The Widnes defence held firm, though, and as stalemate set in, Warrington took the opportunity to level the scores on 54 minutes with a Gidley penalty following interference at the play-the-ball.
The breakthrough appeared to come just three minutes later when replacement hooker Brad Dwyer caught the Vikings defence napping with a run from dummy half 10 metres out.
Gidley kicked his third goal to put his side into an 18-12 lead but it lasted only six minutes after Hanbury took Widnes upfield with a surging run and Brown took a smart return pass out of the tackle from Houston to get centre Charly Runciman over out wide.
Hanbury landed the difficult conversion to tie the scores for a third time but, when Cahill picked the ball up in an offside position following Sandow\'s high kick, Gidley stepped up to kick the all-important penalty, his fourth goal from five attempts.