Salford suffer from Westwood reprisal

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The Independent Online

A second-half hat-trick of tries from Ben Westwood helped Warrington regain third place in Super League yesterday and exact full revenge for their worst day of the season so far.

A second-half hat-trick of tries from Ben Westwood helped Warrington regain third place in Super League yesterday and exact full revenge for their worst day of the season so far.

Salford, who thrashed the Wolves 42-10 in March, were stubborn opponents in the first half and, when Cliff Beverley's well-worked try brought them within two points early in the second half, Warrington were looking nervous.

But then Westwood, successfully converted to the pack this season after spending the early stages of his career as a centre, twice took advantage of Martin Gleeson's ability to suck defenders towards him and Warrington were in the clear and on their way to an emphatic victory.

"He caused them problems all over the park,'' said the Warrington coach, Paul Cullen, who bemoaned Westwood's apparent exclusion from Great Britain's plans. "I see no reason why he shouldn't be in the 40-man squad for the Tri- Nations.''

Warrington struck early when Junior Langi's loose pass went to ground and Logan Swann went over for his first try. But, despite heavy Warrington pressure and a thunderstorm blowing into their faces, Salford had a fair share of the first half and led through tries from Mark Shipway and Tim Hartley.

They fell down on the job before half-time, however, when several players had the chance to clear Chris Bridge's kick before Toa Kohe-Love's touchdown and Shipway's dropped ball paved the way for Gleeson to score from Lee Brier's pass.

Luke Robinson, Hartley and Andy Coley all handled slickly to set up Beverley's try, but that was the last time that Salford looked the part.

David Hodgson lost the ball in a tackle and Westwood scored his first from a lovely pass by Gleeson. The next was more untidy, but Gleeson had attracted so many defenders that, when the ball ran loose, Westwood was able to pick up and score.

Swann added his second before Westwood ran on to Nathan Wood's pass to complete his hat-trick and a disintegrating defence conceded further tries to Kohe-Love and the outstanding Gleeson. "He's a sensational player and the support he gets on the right-hand side makes him a very dominant threat,'' Cullen said.

For Salford's Karl Harrison there was an eighth defeat in a row to contemplate plus the worrying fact that Widnes are closing in. "Sometimes you deserve what you get and I didn't think the scoreboard lied today,'' he said. "We turned over too much possession to Warrington and they made us pay.''

Warrington: Grose; Fa'afili, Gleeson, Kohe-Love, Bridge; Briers, N Wood; Leikvoll, Clarke, Hilton, Swann, Westwood, Noone. Substitutes used: Gaskell, Appo, P Wood, Lima.

Salford: Fitzpatrick; Hodgson, Littler, Beverley, Langi; Hartley, Robinson; Rutgerson, Alker, Baldwin, Shipway, McAvoy, Charles. Substitutes used: Coley, Haggerty, Highton, Johnson.

Referee: R Laughton (Barnsley)

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