Warrington Wolves 40 Leeds Rhinos 20: Four-try Ben Westwood puts Wolves in final
Dave Hadfield was a schoolboy convert to rugby league, the game which, one way or another, has dominated his life ever since. After working for newspapers in Shropshire and Blackpool (where he covered the fortunes of Blackpool Borough) he travelled the world, working mainly in Hong Kong and Sydney. He became The Independent's rugby league man in 1990 and has written five books on the game and broadcast extensively for Sky and the BBC. Dave played his last game at the age of 53 and would have set up a try if anyone could have been bothered supporting his break. When not writing about the sport, he now limits himself to a bit of tick and pass with his local club, the Bolton Mets. Family includes supporters - of varying degrees of dedication - of Salford, Wigan, Sheffield Eagles and St George Illawarra.
Halliwell Jones Stadium
Saturday 14 September 2013
A quartet of tries from Ben Westwood, back to his marauding best, put the Wolves on the fast track to a Super League Grand Final.
If the champions, Leeds, are to defend their title, they will have to take the long route to Old Trafford after they proved incapable of handling his destructive running or the creativity of Michael Monaghan. Although Westwood put the Wolves ahead by diving on to Lee Briers’s well-weighted kick, much of the first half revolved around pace from dummy-half and the mess it can make of a defence.
No one is better at this aspect of the game than Rob Burrow, as he showed twice in seven minutes. The first time his electrifying run set up Kallum Watkins. From he second, Watkins found Ben Jones-Bishop, who shifted the ball inside for Kevin Sinfield to score the second Leeds try.
Briers was lucky to stay on when he reacted to Carl Ablett’s tackle on his collar with a right hook.
That might have looked like a lack of composure in the Wolves ranks, but they were in control by half time.
First some more incisiveness from acting-half, this time from Michael Monaghan, sent Simon Grix through to beat Zak Hardaker with the most audacious of dummies. Then Westwood stormed through for his second, awarded on the benefit of the doubt by the video referee.
Westwood had one score disallowed at the start of the second half before completing his collection, with Hardaker getting two for the Rhinos.
They have done things the hard way before, but this defeat will have left its mark, even before Ryan Atkins wrapped up the scoring.
Warrington: Ratchford; J Monaghan, Bridge, Atkins, Riley; Briers, Grix; Hill, Higham, Wood, Waterhouse, Westwood, Harrison. Subs used: Morley, M Monaghan, Carvell, Cooper.
Leeds: Hardaker; Jones-Bishop, Watkins, Moon, Hall; McGuire, Sinfield; Leuluai, Burrow, Peacock, Jones-Buchanan, Ablett, Bailey. Subs used: Kirke, Delaney, Singleton, Sutcliffe.
Referee: J Child (Dewsbury).
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