Ruagby League: Warrington keep up title hopes: Final victory for Wire sets target for championship rivals

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The Independent Online
Warrington. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .36

Sheffield Eagles. . . . . . . . . . . . . .18

WARRINGTON went back to the top of the First Division for the last time this season at Wilderspool last night. Even if they are overhauled as expected by Wigan and even Bradford over the next two days, they have the satisfaction of ending the league season in some style, with a dashing second-half performance that swept away a depleted Sheffield line-up.

It was clear from the start that Warrington were going to have to work hard to get any sort of win, let alone one that would make their points difference superior to Bradford as this one ultimately did. After Greg Mackey had given Warrington a slender lead with a drop goal, a Sheffield side in a rich vein of form themselves took over when Daryl Powell's grubber bounced off Jonathan Davies for Nick Grimoldby to follow up and score a try which Mark Aston converted.

It was Mackey who engineered Warrington's resurgence in a fast, flowing game. His exchange of passes with Allan Bateman sent him over for one try and then his long pass, after an excellent break by Bateman, provided Rowland Phillips with another.

But Sheffield showed their resilience when, even after the loss of their organiser, Powell, they regained the lead before half-time, Richard Price bouncing up after being half- stopped by Davies to scramble over the try-line.

That lead did not last long into the second half before Mackey and Kevin Ellis gave Iestyn Harris the chance to demonstrate his superb sidestep and cross in the corner.

Another jinking run from Harris and a dart for the line by Mackey left Davies with a simple stroll over from dummy-half for Warrington's fourth try.

Davies's conversion and an angled drop goal from Bateman put Warrington 10 points clear before yet another Harris run forced a penalty from an

increasingly hard-pressed Sheffield defence and Davies found the target once more.

Any doubts that Warrington had finally overcome Sheffield's resistance were put to rest when the admirable Bateman weaved his way through for another converted try.

Jon Roper's try five minutes from the end was even better but Sheffield never gave up and were rewarded by a touchdown from Lynton Stott with three minutes left.

Warrington: Davies; Forster (Bennett, 31), Bateman, Roper, Harris; Ellis, Mackey; Tees (Hilton, 27), Thursfield, Phillips, Darbyshire (Tees, 60), Sanderson, Shelford.

Sheffield Eagles: Hayes; Armswood, Price, Mycoe, Stott; Powell (Summerhill, 31), Aston; Broadbent, Randall, Laughton, Grimoldby (Walker, 27), Hughes, Carr (Grimoldby, 57).

Referee: R Whitfield (Widnes).

----------------------------------------------------------------- STONES BITTER CHAMPIONSHIP - TOP THREE ----------------------------------------------------------------- P W D L F A Pts Warrington 30 23 0 7 628 430 46 Wigan 29 22 0 7 730 397 44 Bradford 29 22 0 7 732 545 44 -----------------------------------------------------------------