Briers steers Warrington to vital victory

Salford 18 Warrington 37
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The Independent Online

Lee Briers scored a try, created another and kicked immaculately as Warrington got the better of Salford at the Willows. Briers played with a broken finger strapped up, and although this was not one of his very best performances he was still the difference between two sides struggling for rhythm.

Lee Briers scored a try, created another and kicked immaculately as Warrington got the better of Salford at the Willows. Briers played with a broken finger strapped up, and although this was not one of his very best performances he was still the difference between two sides struggling for rhythm.

Warrington should have scored after seven minutes when the prop Danny Lima got a lovely ball away to Briers, but his pass to Richard Varkulis bounced into touch. It was the only real opportunity of a cagey opening, but after 15 minutes Briers worked a run-around move with Mike Forshaw and Darren Burns's strength took him over. Salford's one chance came when Cliff Beverley picked up a loose ball and Gavin Clinch's kick for the corner was hurriedly cleared by Dean Gaskill. Warrington went further ahead when, straight from a scrum, Nat Wood went through the tackle of the vastly experienced Scott Naylor to run 60 yards to score, Briers again converting.

Salford got a lifeline when the loose forward Andy Johnson went through some almost equally lax defence, pushing off Ben Westwood and then side-stepping Daryl Cardiss for a try which Chris Charles improved to cut Warrington's lead to six. On the stroke of half-time, however, Briers intercepted Clinch's pass 10 yards from his own line and sprinted to the other end for a spectacular try. He kicked the goal from the touchline.

Salford had a second Johnson try disallowed 10 minutes into the second half. But seven minutes later a flowing attack ended with Tony Stewart turning the ball back inside for Cliff Beverley to score. Then Karl Fitzpatrick intercepted from Briers deep in Salford territory and raced away for the try which, with Charles's third goal, made the scores level.

Warrington soon regained their lead with a try from Paul Wood. Briers's astute drop-goal provided insurance, although late tries from Mark Gleeson and Richard Varkulis made it look a more assured performance than it was.

Salford: Caine; Kirk, Littler, Naylor, Stewart; Beverley, Clinch; Coley, Charles, Rutgerson, Shipway, Baldwin, Johnson.

Subs used: Fitzpatrick, Haggerty, Highton, Myler.

Warrington: Cardiss; Gaskell, Westwood, Burns, Varkulis; Briers, N Wood; P Wood, Clarke, Lima, Noone, Wainwright, Forshaw.

Subs used: Gleeson, Hulse, Gusset, Stevens.

Referee: R Smith, Castleford.

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