McAvoy feeds from power pack: Rugby League

Warrington 10 Salford 29
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The Independent Online
A dominant second-half performance from Salford took them into only their third Challenge Cup semi-final since the Second World War. On the form that swept aside Warrington at Wilderspool, no one will relish meeting them in the last four.

After a tightly balanced first 40 minutes, Andy Gregory's side took control and, if two tries from their gifted centre, Nathan McAvoy, did the damage on the scoreboard, it was the power and diligence of their pack that truly won the day.

The Warrington coach, John Dorahy, had pulled the wool over everyone's eyes by putting Iestyn Harris in his starting line-up at full-back - another step towards healing the rift between club and player. The change did Warrington no harm. Within four minutes, Harris kicked his side deep into the Warrington half from a penalty and Jon Roker's muscular run set up the Warrington captain, Paul Hulme, for the game's first try. Roker, retaining the kicking duties despite Harris's recall, landed the goal.

Salford replied midway through the first half when John Cartwright drove to within sight of the Warrington line and, although he ran out of support when he was tackled, Peter Edwards moved the ball straight to Phil Coussons from the play-the-ball and the winger squeezed in at the corner.

Salford lost David Hulme for 10 minutes when he was sin-binned for holding down Richard Henare after the Warrington winger had broken clear from deep in his own half, but should still have levelled the score when Steve Blakeley missed a penalty given against Paul Sculthorpe for use of the forearm.

Warrington could also rue a lost opportunity before half-time - Henare failing to ground the ball in Darren Rogers' tackle. That escape allowed Salford to equalise shortly before the break, Blakeley putting over a simple penalty awarded for offside.

Two minutes into the second half Salford were ahead. They seemed to be running out of ideas as they probed down the right, but Paul Forber took a pass from Rogers with plenty of tacklers in front of him and sheer power took him over.

Warrington thought they had a try themselves when Shelford plunged over the line. But again the ruling was that the ball had not been touched down and Rogers scooped it up to go 90 yards on a devastating counter- attack. When the ball was switched to the left, Warrington were hopelessly over-stretched and McEvoy scored.

Lee's dropped goal edged them further ahead and Salford made sure of victory when McAvoy poached an interception from Willie Swann to go 40 yards for his second. When Cartwright took Lee's pass to dive over it merely emphasised Salford's second-half dominance, even though Nigel Vagana got one back for Warrington.

Warrington: Harris; Mafi, Vagana, Roper, Henare; Shelford, Swann; Finau, Dermott, Chambers, P Hulme, Tatupu, Sculthorpe. Subs used: Kohe-Love, Darbyshire, Mann. Not used: Rudd

Salford: Rogers; Sini, Naylor, McAvoy, Coussons; Blakeley, Lee; Platt, Edwards, Eccles, Forber, Cartwright, D Hulme. Subs used: Martin, Randall, Watson, Faimalo.

Referee: R Smith (Castleford).

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