Warrington 30 Huddersfield 26: Sharp rues missed chance to topple faltering Wolves
Monday 10 July 2006
Warrington broke their five-match losing run but still almost managed to squander a handsome lead against an equally out-of-form Huddersfield side yesterday.
A burst of four tries in 10 minutes in the first half should have put the Wolves in the clear, but they faltered so badly after the break that if a pass from Kevin Brown, who had scored two tries, had gone to hand with two minutes to play, the Giants could have snatched victory.
"The opportunity to win the game was there, but we left ourselves with too much to do," said the Huddersfield coach, Jon Sharp, who has seen his side slip from outside candidates for the play-offs to the fringe of the relegation battle with four defeats in a row. They lost this one in that burst of Warrington inspiration from the 20th minute onwards.
After falling behind to Brown's first try, from Robbie Paul's cunning kick, the Wolves suddenly found the form that has eluded them over the past five weeks.
A sweeping attack ended with Martin Gleeson sending in Henry Fa'afili and quick scores followed from Simon Grix - a messy affair after a contentious Lee Briers 40-20 kick - Stuart Reardon and Grix again for a 22-4 lead at the break.
The introduction of Andy Raleigh gave Huddersfield a boost and he went through some weak tackling to spark their second-half revival.
Chris Thorman was next, scoring from Brad Drew's run and pass from dummy half, before more sublime handling from Gleeson to Fa'afili calmed Warrington fans' nerves just a little.
Brown brought the margin back to within a score, but Toa Kohe-Love was there to touch down for the Wolves when Briers' cross-field kick had over-shot its intended target. Raleigh's storming run for his second try ensured an exciting finish, but Huddersfield's last chance disappeared with Brown's loose pass.
"We've just found a little more from our ranks today than they have," said the Warrington coach, Paul Cullen, who, despite insisting that he had never felt under personal pressure, looked and sounded a very relieved man indeed.
The win takes them back up to fifth spot, so perhaps the crisis has passed without too much damage being inflicted. For Huddersfield, the next two weeks bring meetings with the relegation-threatened Wakefield and Castleford, so the risk of them being dragged into that company is very real.
Warrington: Reardon; Fa'afili, Gleeson, Kohe-Love, Grose; Grix, Briers; Leikvoll, Sullivan, Hilton, Westwood, Wainwright, Parker. Substitutes used: Barnett, Pickersgill, Bracek, Cooper.
Huddersfield: Reilly; Aspinwall, Brown, De Vere, Donlan; Thorman, Paul; Gannon, Drew, Jackson, Nero, Jones, Wild. Substitutes used: Crabtree, Snitch, Smith, Raleigh.
Referee: R Silverwood (Mirfield).
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