Warrington 6 Salford 22: Fitzpatrick's skill destroys Warrington

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The Independent Online

It is time to start taking seriously Salford's credentials as Super League play-off candidates and to stop being surprised by the sight of them in third place.

Two tries in two minutes at the end of the first half and some determined defence for much of the second saw them to their second win of the season over highly fancied Warrington. They now lie level on points with Leeds, who they play on Monday, and must be regarded as a genuine threat to them and the rest of the division's aristocracy.

"I'm not even looking at the table, but if we keep winning we'll be there or thereabouts," said the Salford coach, Karl Harrison, who claimed that his side had been "pathetic" with the ball in the second half but more than made up for it with some magnificent tackling.

Salford looked like a side full of confidence and they took the lead after 13 minutes when Andrew Dunemann ran across the defence to create the opportunity for the prolific Karl Fitzpatrick.

Fitzpatrick figured again when it became a 10-point lead, his grubber kick sitting up nicely for David Hodgson to score.

Warrington were badly hampered both by the late withdrawal of Lee Briers with a leg injury and by Chris Bridge going off for x-rays on his ankle, but they hinted at a fightback when the ball went swiftly through a series of hands from a scrum for Henry Fa'afili to score in the corner.

In the closing minutes of the half, however, the game got away from them. First Andy Coley and the former Warrington forward, Ian Sibbit, battered a big hole in their defence for Luke Robinson to go in.

From the restart, Gareth Haggerty charged the ball back upfield and although the Wolves managed to keep out Fitzpatrick, Robinson was there to kick through for Stuart Littler.

Warrington had plenty of possession inside the Salford 20-metre zone, but without their usual half-backs they lacked the ideas to break down the defence.

The closest they could come was when Chris Leikboll dropped the ball on the line and when Fa'afili was taken into touch. That achieved the modern rarity of a scoreless half and it was a measure of Salford's commitment that they tackled their hearts out to keep it that way long after the points were safe.

"It was a game of missed opportunities and a fantastic effort from Salford in defence," said the Warrington coach, Paul Cullen.

Warrington: Grose; Fa'afili, Martin Gleeson, Kohe-Love, Reardon; Bridge, Sullivan; Leikboll, Clarke, Wood, Swann, Wainwright, Westwood. Substitutes used: Noone, Rauhihi, Mark Gleeson, Parker.

Salford: Fitzpatrick; Hodgson, Littler, Moule, Wilshere; Dunemann, Robinson; Coley, Alker, Highton, Brocklehurst, Sibbit, Finnigan. Substitutes used: McGuinness, Clayton, Charles, Haggerty.

Referee: R Laughton (Barnsley).