Rugby League: Briers atones for late misses

Warrington Wolves 17 Wigan Warriors 17
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WARRINGTON'S Lee Briers kept his frayed nerves intact to secure the point that was the least his side deserved from this fierce and compelling game, writes Dave Hadfield.

The scrum-half, who had failed with two penalties, kicked a drop goal in injury time that earned the Wolves a draw after Phil Jones' 75th minute penalty for Wigan had seemed to condemn them to defeat.

Briers and Toa Kohe-Love, Warrington's outstanding players all season, had turned the match in their direction in the minutes leading up to half- time.

They were trailing 9-2 when a Briers high kick produced a fumble from Jones and Kohe-Love, Super League's leading try scorer, swooped for another.

A minute before the break, an exquisitely delayed pass from Briers sent Kohe-Love steaming through and he was there to take the return ball for a try, which he also converted.

It got better still for Warrington when Tony Mestrov was sent to the sin-bin in injury time for holding down Kohe-Love and Briers put over the penalty for a five point lead.

Warrington had looked competitive from the start, although after an early exchange of penalties, Andy Farrell had given Wigan the whip hand with a powerful run on to Tony Smith's pass and straight through Dean Busby's tackle. Jones's conversion and a Farrell field goal increased Wigan's advantage.

At the start of the second half, Lee Penny's mistake presented Gary Connolly with a simple try. Jones then landed a penalty after Mark Forster strayed offside.

Kohe-Love had a try disallowed as the tension mounted, but Briers put Warrington back in front after Denis Betts was caught offside. Briers then missed an easy kick after Jon Clarke had been penalised for a high tackle on Danny Nutley.

Five minutes from time, Warrington, for their enterprise, seemed to have self-destructed. As Wigan piled on the pressure, Nutley gave away a penalty for flopping on to Connolly.

Jones put it over, but Wigan could have been behind again when Danny Moore was punished for holding down Wilson. This time Briers missed badly from wide out, but his vindicating moment was not far away.

Warrington Wolves: Penny; Forster, Kohe-Love, Roper, Hunte; Wilson, Wilson; Briers, Chambers, Farrar, Nutley, Gillies, Busby, Knott. Substitutes used: Hanger, Stevens, Wainwright, McCurrie.

Wigan Warriors: Radlinski; Robinson, Moore, Connolly, Jones; Florimo, T Smith; Cowie, Clarke, O'Connor, Betts, Cassidy, Farrell. Substitutes used: Mestrov, Haughton, Gilmour, M Smith.

Referee: S Ganson (St Helens).