Warrington brought to life by record-breaking Riley

Crusaders 10 Warrington 30
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The Independent Online

Warrington consolidated second place in the Super League as two tries apiece from their wingers, Chris Hicks and Chris Riley, helped to beat an injury-hit but determined Crusaders.

Hicks, who is returning to Australia at the end of the year after a successful four-season stay, scored the first two to give the Wolves a lead they were never to lose. Riley grabbed the last two to avert any danger of a fightback from the depleted Wrexham-based side.

"We were really cobbled together," said the Crusaders' coach, Brian Noble. "But they can look in the mirror and say they had a dig."

Crusaders, already without their chief playmaker, Michael Witt, lost Lincoln Withers in the pre-match warm-up and made what was, even by their unenviable standard, a wretched start.

Mark Bryant lost the ball, driving it in on the first set of tackles, and Warrington, scarcely able to believe their luck, scored on the vacant left wing through Hicks.

The Welsh side's reply was one of the individual tries of the season, Nick Youngquest breaking the line and showing magnificent pace to run 60 metres through some indolent defence to score.

An equally devastating break, made by Clinton Schifkofske and carried on by Tony Martin, almost produced a second home try. Instead, the Wolves manoeuvred themselves to the other end of the Racecourse Ground for Hicks to claim his second try from Lee Briers' angled kick.

By that time, Crusaders had lost Gareth Thomas, playing in the centre for the first time in his rugby league career, with a recurrence of his groin injury, which they are hoping will not prove to be season-ending. That brought Jarrod Sammut, with his idiosyncratic bag of tricks, into the game and his instinctive fingertip flick almost created a try for Luke Dyer.

Warrington survived and stretched their interval lead to a flattering 10 points when Garreth Carvell steered a ball out of the tackle for David Solomona to touch down.

The Wolves effectively had the game won when Paul Wood off-loaded to Riley and Mickey Higham supported on the inside to score.

Ryan Atkins set up Riley for his first, in the process becoming the first player from his club to score 20 tries in a Super League season. A fine solo effort from the side-stepping Rhys Hanbury for Crusaders closed the gap, before a scrum-penalty paved the way for Riley's second.

The Warrington coach, Tony Smith was not overly impressed. "It was OK," he said. "We're not over the moon, but it was a big effort by them after losing a crucial player."

Crusaders Schifkofske; Dyer, Thomas, Martin, Youngquest; Lupton, Hanbury; O'Hara, White, Bryant, Hauraki, Winterstein, Trimarchi. Substitutes used Thackray, Peek, Flower, Sammut.

Warrington Mathers; Hicks, King, Atkins, Riley; Briers, Myler; Wood, Monaghan, Harrison, L Anderson, Westwood, V Anderson. Substitutes used Higham, Grix, Carvell, Solomona.

Referee S Ganson (St Helens).