Widnes Vikings v Batley Bulldogs: Mark Moxon hoping to secure Super League ‘prize’ in Challenge Cup

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Batley Bulldogs are hoping to secure a Super League “prize” in this season’s Challenge Cup but head coach Mark Moxon knows they are in for a “test” against Widnes Vikings.

Moxon’s men travel to the DCBL Stadium on Saturday, March 9 (kick off 6pm) for a fifth round tie on the back of exiting the 1895 Cup at the quarter final stage at the hands of Sheffield Eagles, 26-10, last Sunday.

Widnes have won their previous three games having lost their opening 1895 Cup group game at Swinton Lions, 18-6. Their Challenge Cup run has seen them thrash Doncaster and, impressively, beat Bradford Bulls, 26-12, at Odsal.

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Moxon said: “The challenges are going to be very similar to Sheffield, especially going to a big club with a 4G pitch. We will be better for playing on the 4G after Sheffield as up to then we had only played and trained on muddy fields, so we will be better for it and hopefully we can take it into this week.

Batley Bulldogs' head coach Mark Moxon.Batley Bulldogs' head coach Mark Moxon.
Batley Bulldogs' head coach Mark Moxon.

“Widnes have had a few changes, a few out and a few in. But there is Tom Gilmore (former Batley player) there who is a massive threat for them in terms of game management and kicking game. Jack Owens at full back is a real threat.

“They are going to have their threats just like Sheffield did. They are going to throw the ball around on a surface they have trained and played on all pre-season.

“We are expecting another tough challenge. They are going to be a test, I am sure.”

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And Moxon would like to progress to the next round to get a shot at a Super League “prize.”

He said: “That’s the prize for all us lower league teams - to get a Super League team in the latter rounds.

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“That’s the aim, to get through this week and hopefully get a Super League team at home in the next round.”

Batley’s progression in both cups has ensured weekly fixtures since their opening 1895 Cup group game with Featherstone Rovers on Sunday, February 4.

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On the different structure which has kick-started the 2024 campaign, Moxon said:

“It’s almost like a false sense of security going into the start of the season. It’s like a honeymoon period because there have been games against teams where you are expected to win, and we have done, Featherstone discounted in that.

“Other than that we have had games where we’re expected to win and we have done. Then when you get to Sheffield away, Widnes away and Featherstone at home in the league, I’m not sure how that flows to be fair.

“But that’s the way it is. It has been a different concept but I would prefer the cup games in between the normal fixtures.”