Rugby League: Briers snares weary Eagles

Sheffield Eagles 16 Warrington Wolves 48
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WARRINGTON, spearheaded by a hat-trick from the prolific Toa Kohe- Love, maintained their push for a top-five place. This resounding win took them level with Castleford and Gateshead on points, at least until this afternoon, but they will face far sterner tests than this weary Sheffield side before the playoff positions in Super League are decided.

The Eagles' coach, John Kear, predicted days ago that his team would show signs of fatigue after a demanding week. What was less excusable was that they should show tiredness from the start of this game, with Lee Briers, in particular, swift to punish them for their lethargy.

It was Briers' sleight of hand that produced the first try after 13 minutes, Alan Hunte crashing on to the ball to put Warrington ahead.

Five minutes later, Briers' reverse pass found Kohe-Love, Super League's leading try scorer, who went through Gareth Stephens' tackle for his 23rd of the season in all competitions. Jon Roper this time added the goal.

Having set up two tries, the Warrington scrum-half, unfortunate on this form not to be part of Great Britain's immediate plans, scored one of his own, going through some weak tackling to leave Roper with another easy conversion.

Briers also put in the 40-20 kick to give his side scrum possession from which Dave Highton's pass out of the tackle sent Gary Chambers away, with startling pace for a prop forward, for their fourth try.

A sense that they had already done enough crept into Warrington's play at this point, with the result that Sheffield were able to mount a spirited little revival before half-time.

After a spell of the messiest play imaginable, Stephens and Matt Crowther worked an opening for Bright Sodje to score and then, just before the break, Dave Watson's weaving run and Crowther's finish yielded a second, improved by Crowther to take them into double figures.

It was a turnaround not destined to continue into the second half. Within three minutes, Sheffield's inability to wrap up attackers near their line caught them out again, Roper slipping the ball back inside for Mark Forster to score. Kohe-Love soon had his second, cutting back on the diagonal to touch down from Briers' pass.

The Kiwi's hat-trick was not long delayed, Steve McCurrie providing the pass as a limp defence again failed to get to grips with him. Hunte laid one on for Lee Penny with equal ease and then leapt high to slap down Briers' high kick for another.

Sheffield had a late obstruction try awarded to Chris Thorman after he had been pulled back by Hunte, chasing his own kick. The outcome had been decided long before that; when the season's fixtures were drawn up, to be precise.

Sheffield: Watson, Sodje, Cardoza, Senior, Crowther, Hardy, Stephens, Molloy, Lawless, Shaw, Jackson, Turner, Doyle. Subs: Sovatabur, Thorman, Vassilakopoulos, Wright.

Warrington: Penny, Hunte, Kohe-Love, Roper, Forster, Wilson, Briers, Chambers, Highton, Nutley, Gillies, Knott, Wainwright. Subs: Roach, McCurrie, Busby, Sibbitt.

Referee: S Cummings (Widnes).