Johns' quiet inspiration keeps Wolves on track

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The Independent Online

The Australian legend enjoys a 100 per cent record with the Wolves as they followed up their triumph over champions Leeds with a 30-16 victory over Challenge Cup winners Hull in their last match of the Super League regular season on Friday night.

A first win at the KC Stadium has guaranteed Paul Cullen's men a home tie in the weekend's play-offs and boosted their hopes of a trip to Old Trafford on 15 October.

Johns kicked five goals from six attempts but played a largely back-seat role in the win, handling in the move leading up to Logan Swann's second try and putting in a perfectly judged kick to create the first of two for the former Hull centre Toa Kohe-Love. But the Hull coach, John Kear, was quick to praise the contribution of a man widely acknowledged as the greatest player in the game. "I think he's energised the Warrington team," said Kear. "They are playing to their maximum potential and they've got great momentum going."

Cullen, too, believes that, as well as being a superb on-field organiser, Johns is an inspiration to his team-mates. "There is a lot to be said for what is done with the ball, but there's probably even more to be said for what is done without the ball," he said. "Just check the shape, structure and confidence of the Warrington team.

"There were guys running lines and angles that we've not explored previously. He's obviously very important, as is Lee Briers. Guys love running off the pair of them."

Hull, who face an away tie against Bradford or Warrington in the first round of the play-offs, paraded the Challenge Cup after the match but their hopes of completing the double were severely dented by a third League defeat in four matches and by the loss of their goal-kicking scrum-half Danny Brough with a suspected broken leg.

Warrington had to overcome the sin-bin exit of the winger Chris Bridge and they may be without Brent Grose next week if League officials agree with Kear that he tripped the Hull winger Nathan Blacklock midway through the second half.

Leeds, meanwhile, ended their four-match losing run with a 34-26 victory over Wakefield that enabled them to break the record of 1,120 points in a season set by Bradford in 2001. They were pushed hard by a spirited Wildcats side who had destroyed their 20-match unbeaten run with victory at Headingley earlier this season.

The Leeds coach, Tony Smith, dismissed suggestions that the win had "stopped the rot", but he was delighted to return to winning ways. "I don't think there has been rot," he said. "We've been very, very close to victory for a while and pretty close to pretty good performances, too."

Wakefield were level at the break 10-10 and gave the Rhinos a scare with late tries from Austin Buchanan, Sam Obst and their departing skipper, Sid Domic.

Leigh conceded a late try to Anthony Stewart to go down 20-14 at home to Salford and, therefore, waved goodbye to Super League with a 17th successive defeat.