Rugby League: Warrington taken to the wire by Halifax

Warrington 25 Halifax 22
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The Independent Online
Warrington ended the longest losing run in the club's history, but only after making their long-suffering supporters sweat and fret as they frittered away a commanding early lead.

Halifax came back from a 24-point deficit to all but win a game that, for all its rough edges, proved thrilling entertainment. Their own losing sequence now stands at eight games and their only consolation lay in the determination of their fightback from an apparently hopeless position even after a tiring match at Leeds in midweek.

Warrington seemed to have put their morale-sapping run of nine losses firmly behind them in the opening stages when Mike Wainwright, a gambling loose forward only drafted in because of suspensions to Kelly Shelford and Nigel Bagana, looked the answer to all their problems at stand-off.

Wainwright played an important part in tries from Lee Penny, Salesi Finau and Jon Roper as Warrington raced into their handsome lead.

Paul Sculthorpe, so overworked in recent weeks, was enjoying having an alternative focus of attack and when his kick took a fortunate bounce off a Halifax hand, Tony Tatupu claimed his side's fourth try, with Lee Briers adding his fourth conversion.

That should have been that, but Warrington showed that, however much their attack might have improved, their defence remained deeply flawed.

Sereti Tuilagi and Martin Moana scored before half-time and when Tuilagi went over for his second soon after the break, Warrington were under extreme pressure.

Martin Pearson, Moana and Mike Umaga performed miracles to keep the ball alive 15 minutes from time and when Michael Jackson scored, few would have given much for Warrington's chances of hanging on. But Briers slotted over a drop goal and their wobbly defence held steady through a nerve- racking last few minutes.

The key moments in that were Finau's crunching tackle to deny Tuilagi the winning try and the defence's success in turning Moana on to his back after he had crossed the try-line. To their enormous relief, Warrington survived by the narrowest of margins.

Warrington: Penny; Henare, Finau, Roper, Forster; Wainright, Briers; Chambers, Swann, Hilton, Tatupu, Eyres, Sculthorpe. Substitutes: Geritas, Stevens, Mann, Knotts.

Halifax: Umaga; Tuilagi, Shuster, Powell, Bouvent; Pearson, Bean; Harrison, Seal, Marshall, Highton, Jackson, Baldwin. Substitutes: Munro, Moana, Amone, Rushforth.

Referee: D Campbell (Widnes).