Super League’s London Broncos survived a major scare from John Kear’s part-time Batley side to book their place in the quarter-finals of the Challenge Cup with a 22-16 win.
The Londoners overcame horrendous weather at Mount Pleasant and enthusiastic opponents to grind out a hard-fought victory in a fifth-round tie played in driving rain.
Australian half-back Craig Gower led the Broncos’ efforts on his 34th birthday as the Super League outfit claimed their first win away from home for almost 12 months to deny Kear, a cup winner with both Sheffield Eagles and Hull, another famous scalp.
The Championship side chose to run uphill in the first half and the gamble backfired with London scoring three tries in a 10-minute spell to open a 16-0 lead.
But introduction of towering forward Alex Walmsley injected fresh impetus into Batley and they responded with two converted tries in six minutes to close the gap to just four points at the break.
In the second half with the marked slope of the ground in their favour, the tie was set up for Batley to take the spoils but the Londoners raised their game with Michael Witt taking over from his halfback partner Gower as the main threat.
Broncos winger Kieron Dixon had a try disallowed for offside as the visitors piled on the pressure and it was no surprise when they eventually extended their lead, hooker Chad Randall burrowing his way over from dummy half on 71 minutes,
Shane Rodney’s third goal opened up a 10-point gap, and although Batley gave themselves renewed hope when fullback Ian Preece won the race to touch down Ben Black’s kick to the corner, the Super League side held on to spare their own blushes.
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