Widnes Vikings booked their place in the third round of the Betfred Challenge Cup and the semi-finals of the 1895 Cup with a hard-fought victory over Whitehaven.
Lewis Else scored his first ever try at senior level, before going on to add his second late in the tie, capping an impressive performance.
Will Tilleke realised a life-long dream too, crashing over the try line to score for his hometown club in only his second appearance.
Whitehaven showed grit in the first period, trailing by only 10 points at the break, however a more settled second half performance saw the hosts keep their opponents scoreless until the final moments and safely advance to the next round.
Four minutes into the contest the Vikings thought they had opened the scoring, but Jack Owens’ cut-out pass to Deon Cross was adjudged to have drifted forward.
It was the visitors who broke the deadlock though, when off the back of a penalty a flat pass at the line sent Connor Holiday through the defensive line, with Callum Phillips going over in support.
Within five minutes Widnes were on the scoresheet, as an attempted ball steal from Haven ended in a knock on, giving the black and whites great field position. From the resulting set a cut-out ball from Danny Craven was collected by Ste Tyrer, with the centre proving too strong from close range.
Little in the way of scoring opportunities followed until the closing stages of the first period, however a Whitehaven player was placed on report following a complaint of biting from Connor Dwyer.
Late in the first half the Vikings finally hit the front, as Craven managed to open up a gap wide enough for him to squeeze through, wrestling the ball to the floor despite the best attempts of the defence.
With two minutes to go Whitehaven missed a huge opportunity, as Karl Dixon ran the ball on the last tackle and offloaded to the onrushing Lachlan Walmsley, who spilled possession with the try line begging.
The last play of the first half saw the hosts add to their lead though, as Craven’s pass sent Dwyer racing through, and Lewis Else was in support to pick up his first senior try.
Half-time: Widnes Vikings 16-6 Whitehaven
Early in the second period the Vikings extended their lead once again, with Matty Smith and Owens combining before the captain raced in out wide, as he also landed the touch line conversion.
As heavy rain began to fall, chances for either dried up for both sides once again, before a tackle off the ball from Owen Farnworth caused tempers to flare.
From the following set some ferocious defence from the Vikings forced an error, to the delight of the limited and socially distanced crowd, with Farnworth, Adam Lawton and Will Tilleke heavily involved.
As the conditions deteriorated, so did the standard of rugby league on show, with both sides struggling to control the ball as the game became littered with knock ons.
In a half with little of note to remember, Tilleke produced a moment he will never forget as he barged over from close range to score his first try for his hometown club, on his first home appearance.
With 10 minutes remaining the Vikings took advantage of a last tackle penalty to move into a dangerous position, and Else showed great awareness to utilise a quick play the ball and dart over for his second try of the contest.
Whitehaven had the last say, as a quick tap from a penalty led to Dixon sending Sean Croston over for the final score of the game, but it was a mere consolation for the Cumbrian outfit.
Full-time: Widnes Vikings 34-10 Whitehaven
Widnes Vikings: Jack Owens, Owen Buckley, Ste Tyrer, Jake Spedding, Deon Cross, Danny Craven, Matty Smith, Paul Clough, Joe Lyons, Owen Farnworth, Connor Dwyer, Adam Lawton, Kenny Baker.
Interchanges: Lewis Else, Matt Cook, Josh Wilde, Will Tilleke.
Tries: Tyrer (13), Craven (34), Else (40, 70), Owens (43), Tilleke (66) Goals: Owens 5/6
Whitehaven RLFC: Lachlan Walmsley, James Worthington, Sean Croston, Jesse-Joe Parker, Andrew Bulman, Karl Dixon, Nikau Williams, Glenn Riley, Callum Phillips, Dean Zammit, Ellis Gillam, Connor Holliday, Thomas Wilkinson.
Interchanges: Liam Cooper, Ethan Kelly, Oscar Thomas, Andrew Thornley.
Tries: Phillips (7), Croston (79) Goals: Walmsley 1/1