Briers and Hicks help Wolves rise to the Challenge

Leeds 6 Warrington 30: Leeds leathered in Cup final as potential classic is turned into a clobbering by wonderful Warrington

What was supposed to be a classic Wembley final turned out to be one of the most one-sided, with Warrington entirely convincing in retaining the Challenge Cup.

Chris Hicks claimed a rare Wembley hat-trick, the first since the Leeds Rhinos wing Leroy Rivett grabbed four in the last final at the old Wembley. Ryan Atkins – one of the players they have added since last year's triumph over Huddersfield – got two and Louis Anderson scored the last.

But it was the craft of the stand-off Lee Briers that won him the Lance Todd Trophy as man of the match in a landslide vote. He had an influential role in four of those six tries and generally bossed the show in midfield to set the stage for the Wolves to dominate.

Leeds, desperate for their first Challenge Cup this millennium, made too many mistakes and missed too many tackles – Warrington are not going to be beaten at Wembley by a team that does that. They failed to respond to the atmosphere generated by a sell-out crowd and it is no exaggeration to say that they could have lost by more.

The absence of the injured Jamie Peacock, a player who could conceivably have lifted the team, was all too obvious. Compared with Warrington's decision to leave out Richie Myler, Leeds' choice of the 20-year-old novice, Chris Clarkson, to start in the second row was not exactly cataclysmic. It was, though, a huge vote of confidence in a player who was completely unknown this time last year. Carl Ablett was on the bench after his three match suspension and, as expected, Ali Lauitiiti was the Rhinos forward to miss out.

Both sides committed an early blunder, Danny Buderus fumbling Briers' kick-off and Atkins squandering that possession by being forced into touch on the first tackle.

Leeds then had a period of pressure which could have brought them an opening try, but which only saw Ryan Bailey held up over the line. The strain was only eased by another handling error from the vastly experienced Buderus – and then it was time for a short, sharp masterclass from Briers.

It was his kick across field after 13 minutes that found Atkins (below) in acres of space between Brett Delaney and Kevin Sinfield. The centre made the cleanest of catches and Warrington were on their way.

Almost immediately, Briers pinned Leeds back with a 40-20 kick and then through the long pass that released Matt King on the right wing. Hicks had the acumen to scissor inside him and although Ben Westwood failed with a second conversion by hitting a post Warrington were already in a commanding position.

Leeds threatened twice through Ryan Hall but once he was magnificently tackled into touch by Westwood and once was brought back for Brent Webb's forward pass.

The Rhinos, however, were about to turn attack into hapless defence. From Danny McGuire's high kick Chris Riley picked up and counterattacked. When he was stopped, Atkins found a scandalous gap between Hall and Ian Kirke to go the rest of the way, with Westwood adding the simple goal.

The Wolves really only needed one try in the second half to make it safe and they almost got it immediately when the scrambling Rob Burrow narrowly prevented King from touching down Westwood's kick.

That was only delaying the inevitable. After twice holding up Delaney behind their line with typically tenacious defence, Warrington delivered the killer blow. Again it was Briers' pin-point kick, with Hicks doing brilliantly to catch and ground the ball under pressure from Hall.

Leeds avoided the ignominy of becoming the first side since St Helens, against Wigan in 1989, to be nilled in a Cup final when Lee Smith forced his way over from McGuire's pass. The improvement in their situation was merely cosmetic. After Richie Mathers had had a try disallowed against his old club for a technical obstruction, the Wolves finished them off without mercy. Hicks completed his hat-trick on the end of a move initiated yet again by Briers and then Louis Anderson completed the rout from Mathers' one-handed pass.

It had not quite been the epic that many predicted, but it had been an epic display by a Warrington side treating the Cup as their own.

The most sincere compliment that can be paid to them is to repeat what used to be said about Wigan when they monopolised the trophy – that it will take a very good side to take it from them. On the day, Leeds were anything but that.

Leeds Webb; Smith, Delaney, Senior, Hall; McGuire, Burrow; Leuluai, Buderus, Bailey, Jones-Buchanan, Clarkson, Sinfield. Substitutes used: Diskin, Ablett, Eastwood, Kirke.

Warrington Mathers; Hicks, King, Atkins, Riley; Briers, Monaghan; Morley, Clarke, Carvell, L Anderson, Westwood, Harrison. Substitutes used: Higham, Solomona, Wood, V Anderson.

Referee R Silverwood (Mirfield).

Warrington

Tries: Atkins 2, L Anderson, Hicks 3

Goals: Westwood 3

Leeds

Try: Smith

Goal: Sinfield

Attendance 85,217

New Articles
tvDownton Abbey Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashion
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all