Two Woods raise new roof

Warrington 34 Widnes 20
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The Independent Online

Warrington survived a second-half resurgence from Wakefield to mark a new era in the club's history with the victory the occasion demanded.

The Wolves, inspired by their returning captain, Lee Briers, looked to be on their way to a comfortable win when they led 32-8 midway through the half, but their opponents hit back with three quick tries to make it a struggle in the final minutes.

The opening night at a new stadium, especially one packed to its gleaming corrugated roof as the Halliwell Jones was last night, can be a nerve-racking emotional ordeal for the home side. The sense of anticipation was heavy in the air when Lee Briers led out Warrington for the first time in seven months, making a doubly significant night for him.

It was his half-back partner, Nathan Wood, who had the honour of scoring the first try at Warrington's new home, completing a wonderful handling move started by Briers' long pass and twice featuring the new prop, Chris Leikvoll.

Briers landed the first goal, soon cancelled out by a Wakefield penalty from the boot of Jamie Rooney, but the game became messy and irritable after that, with two interruptions as players squared up to each other.

When the rugby resumed, Warrington chose to run the ball rather than kick for goal from an offside penalty and they were rewarded for their enterprise when Briers threw the ball wide on the last tackle and Ben Westwood got it to Dean Gaskell for the winger to scramble over the line.

Wakefield were in danger of becoming excessively compliant guests on the big night and they had little choice but to run the ball themselves when they got a penalty in a similar position.

The result was a try that brought them back into the game, Rooney kicking through perfectly for Ben Jefferies to touch down, Rooney converting to cut the margin to four points.

They could even have been ahead if Jefferies' pass to David Wrench had not been forward five minutes before half-time. As it was, Briers edged Warrington a little further ahead with a penalty immediately before the break.

At a new venue, it was a try that had more to do with the game's distant past that got Warrington moving in the second half. They won a scrum against the feed and Briers took advantage of a startled defence to dart through.

Paul Wood added a quick try double and Warrington seemed firmly on top, but their visitors got back through a try from Justin Ryder and when Rooney and Colum Halpenny both crossed the unthinkable was suddenly on.

If Wakefield could have kicked their goals, the pressure on Warrington would have been even greater, but they held on with Briers adding a final penalty.

Warrington: Appo; Wilshere, Grose, Westwood, Gaskell; Briers, N Wood; Leikvoll, Clarke, Hilton, Burns, Wainwright, Forshaw. Substitutes used: Gleeson, P Wood, Lima, Noone.

Wakefield: Demetriou; Ryder, Ellis, Dommic, Tadulala; Rooney, Jefferies; Griffin, March, Korkidas, Solomona, Hood, Field. Substitutes used: Halpenny, Wrench, Snitch, Talipeau.

Referee: I Smith (Oldham).

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