Clarke treble leads rout of Widnes

Warrington 44 - Widnes 12
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The Independent Online

Jon Clarke'S hat-trick gave Warrington a decisive advantage in the battle to keep away from one of the two relegation places in Super League.

Jon Clarke'S hat-trick gave Warrington a decisive advantage in the battle to keep away from one of the two relegation places in Super League.

Although there was plenty of evidence to show why both sides have been struggling this season, Warrington, largely thanks to Clarke's opportunism, finished up looking by far the least bad of the two.

With both sides under extra pressure following Leigh's first win of the season the previous evening, it was a predictably nervous start, but Warrington opened the scoring from the first really penetrative piece of play. Lee Briers delayed his pass to send Clarke running on to the ball and the gap in the Widnes defence opened up.

It was the footwork of Aaron Moule that overturned that lead, taking him away from four tacklers in a confined space for the converted try that put Widnes ahead.

Warrington took over again when their other half-back, Chris Bridge, held up his pass cleverly for Michael Wainwright to go over the try-line.

Briers was having an off day with his goal-kicking, missing both conversions, and Stephen Myler brought Widnes level with a simple penalty after Mick Cassidy had been high in a two-man tackle.

On the half-hour, Widnes's Simon Finnigan lost the ball and Warrington regained the lead, thanks to Ben Westwood scrambling over when Widnes clearly felt they had completed the job of tackling him.

Then Matthew Whitaker lost a ball near his own line to give Martin Gleeson the opportunity to take Briers's pass and completely wrong-foot the Widnes defence, with Briers this time converting.

Whitaker cruised through some weak tackling for the second Widnes try, but Wolves took firm control again when Clarke took Briers' pass and dummied to get to the line. Briers missed the conversion but added a goal when he was felled by Daniel Frame as Widnes continued to concede damaging penalties. Clarke completed a rare hat-trick when Ben Westwood took the ball to the line.

Widnes were a sorry outfit by then and Briers' try punished them further before David Mills' loose pass sent Henry Fa'afili away. Fa'afili rounded it off with a try from Briers's kick.

Warrington: Grose, Fa'afili, Martin Gleeson, Kohe-Love, Gaskell, Bridge, Briers, Hilton, Mark Gleeson, Westwood, Wood, Wainwright, Clarke. Substitutes used: Appo, Pickersgill, Stevens, Lima.

Widnes: Rowlands, Emelio, Moule, Whittle, Ballard, Myler, Hulse, O'Connor, Smith, Mills, Cassidy, Stankevitch, Finnigan. Substitutes used: Crook, O'Neill, Whitaker, Frame.

Referee: R Laughton (Barnsley).

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