Grose effort rescues fragile Warrington

Warrington 32 Castleford 18
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The Independent Online

It took a 90-yard interception try from Brent Grose and most of a blustery afternoon at the Halliwell Jones Stadium for Warrington to repair the damage done by their early defensive frailties.

Grose's spectacular effort on the hour mark came at the expense of Jon Hepworth, who had scored twice for Castleford, but this time saw the centre take his pass and hand off two tacklers to sprint away for the crucial score of the match.

"If the interception pass had gone over his head, we would have lost the game," said his coach, Paul Cullen, who called this "a victory for character", after the early setbacks his side had suffered.

It was Michael Smith who did much of that damage, twice opening up a Warrington side reshuffled before kick-off because of a virus in the camp. His break produced Hepworth's first try and then he sent Ryan Hudson away for the second with the game still only seven minutes old.

Warrington were brought back into it by two scrappy but invaluable tries fromwing, John Wilshere. First he capitalised on a ball smuggled out of the tackle by Grose and then he took advantage of Tom Saxton's mistake under Lee Briers' kick to the corner. Briers landed a goal against the gale from the touchline to cut the margin to two points.

Warrington finally got their noses in front 10 minutes into the second half with a beautifully worked try. Nat Wood got the ball wide and the makeshift combination of Ian Sibbit and Paul Noone linked up for Noone to score from the return pass.

The lead was short-lived as the Wolves again showed their vulnerability to Castleford's ability to break from deep. Wayne Godwin broke through and again it was Hepworth in support for a try which was improved by Godwin's third goal.

Then came Grose's match-turning effort and Warrington finished the game strongly, admittedly now with a howling wind behind them.

No one performed better in the closing stages than Paul Wood, helped off after taking a heavy knock in the early minutes but a tower of strength after volunteering to come back on. He went over for one try and his powerful drive helped set up the position for Mark Hilton to round it off.

Graham Steadman, whose job as the Castleford coach is under increasing pressure, could at least point to an improved display: "We've got seven or eight players playing with consistency and some that aren't," he mused.

Warrington: Cardiss; Wilshere, Grose, Burns, Sibbit, Briers, N Wood, Hilton, Clarke, P Wood, Forshaw, Wainwright, Moone. Substitutes: Gleeson, Stevens, Guisset, Lima.

Castleford: Saxton, Rogers, Maloney, Clayton, Gibson, Rudder, Hepworth, Greenhill, Godwin, Jackson, Smith, Thackray, Hudson. Substitutes: Ripley, Lynch, Ryan, Huby.

Referee: I Smith (Oldham)