Grief for Griffiths as Warrington wither

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The Independent Online
St Helens 54 Warrington 14

For Warrington, it was Nightmare in Knowsley Road Part 2. A blood-chiller in which self-inflicted injury loomed large, writes Dave Hadfield.

Clive Griffiths' reign as coach began as Brian Johnson's had ended, with a heavy defeat by neighbours who could not resist twisting the knife. But if Thursday's humiliation was triggered by a combination of Saints' brilliance and their own lack of application, this hammering owed most to Warrington's woeful indiscipline.

Two men sent off, two more sin-binned and a first-half penalty count of 9-0 against them tells the sorry story. Although Warrington showed far more fight than three days earlier, and even did the unthinkable by taking an early lead through a try from Iestyn Harris, the odds were far too much for them.

It was during the first of their depletions, the sin-binning of Mike Ford for his role in a fracas, that Saints took control with tries from Vila Matautia and Andy Haigh. The temporary departure of Ian Knott saw Joey Hayes extent Saints' lead and no sooner was he back on the field than Salesi Finau was dispatched permanently for his third high tackle.

Lee Penny became the second Warrington player to be shown the red card, midway through the second half, for throwing a punch at Keiron Cunningham. By that time Saints had profited from a second try by Hayes and the first of two from Danny Arnold, although Harris had also claimed his second. After Cunningham had scored the most spectacular try of the game, Andy Bennett managed Warrington's third in the last minute.

Had he been in a jocular mood, Griffiths could have claimed credit for halving Warrington's losing margin. Instead he confined himself to expressing disappointment at the way his side had been penalised by the referee, David Campbell.

"We were harshly treated. I think anyone could see that," said Griffiths, whose trial period in charge until the end of the season can only get easier.

St Helens: Arnold; Hayes, Northey, Gibbs, Haigh; Hammond, Goulding (Waring, 67); Perelini, Cunningham, Pickavance (Mathison, 5, Kapewell, 64), Booth, Matutia (Loughlin, 19), Veivers.

Warrington: Penny; Forster, Finau, Currier, Mafi; Harris, Ford; Jones (Barrow, 60), Hough (Thursfield, 32), Hilton, Cullen (Bennett, 74), Knott, Shelford.

Referee: D Campbell (Widnes).