Briers adds bite to Wolves attack

Warrington 30 Castleford 16
Click to follow
The Independent Online

A match-winning burst of 14 points in the last 10 minutes ­ 10 of them from the influential Lee Briers ­ saw Warrington safely home in an error-ridden affair that showed why neither side is truly equipped to make a push for the play-offs.

Pegged back to 16 apiece despite having the territorial advantage, the Wolves found the finishing touch in the closing stages, starting with Allan Langer's angled kick, fumbled by the Castleford substitute, Andy McNally.

Warrington had men there in numbers to pick up the pieces, Tawera Nikau and Martin Masella paving the way for John Clarke to go over and Briers to add the goal. That might well have been enough to decide an untidy if not uninteresting contest between evenly matched sides, but Briers intercepted from Mitch Healey with two minutes to play for another converted try and then added the injury-time penalty when Mark Lennon put the restart dead.

That made the victory look relatively comfortable, but the Warrington coach, Darryl Van De Velde, admitted that it was a good job that Briers recovered from both a hand injury and a virus that kept him away from training. "He's not been well all week, but after that contribution I'm just pleased he played,'' he said. "We made heavy weather of it but getting the two points was important for us.''

Warrington made the worst possible start when Rob Smyth failed to take Healey's kick and Simon Lewis achieved the rare distinction of scoring with his first touch for the club after arriving on loan from Bradford. Warrington came back quickly enough, with Steve McCurrie picking off Healey's kick to send Ian Sibbit over and they seemed to be taking control when Briers put McCurrie in and kicked his second goal for a 12-6 lead.

Warrington were even better placed as half-time approached, Alan Hunte beating a hesitant defence for their third try, but as Van De Velde was making his way to the changing rooms he saw the unwelcome sight of Darren Rogers intercepting from McCurrie to narrow the gap. Lennon's conversion and a penalty in the 67th minute tied the scored, but with Dale Fritz in the sin-bin Warrington made the vital breakthrough.

It was a gloomy afternoon for Graham Steadman, who lost yet another player when Rogers went off with a suspected fracture of the hand. Steadman was also unhappy with some of Stuart Cummings' decisions and will be contacting the Rugby League today to make his complaints.

Warrington: Hunte, Smyth, Kidwell, Sibbit, Olstead, Briers, Langer, Guisset, Clarke, Nutley, McCurrie, Mercer, Nikau. Substitutes used: Busby, Wood, Masella, Noone.

Castleford: Flowers, Pryce, Wells, Rogers, Lewis, Healey, Lennon, Shaw, Speak, Sykes, Harland, Fritz, Vowles. Substitutes used: McNally, Tonks, Smith, Lynch.

Referee: S Cummings (Widnes).