For perhaps the first time this season, a post I had written praising a team turned out not to be a curse. It is testament to the resolve of this Warrington side that they managed to overcome both a 10 point deficit and the curse of my praise to come out as victors in a pulsating Challenge Cup clash against Hull KR that was compulsive viewing from start to finish.
This was a Cup game that had it all: a boisterous crowd,two teams giving it their all, excellent tries and attacking play, rampaging forward play, controversy at the death and a sudden-death finish. Both teams took it in turns to show their stuff and they did not disappoint. When Hull KR pulled ten points clear, I thought that would be too much for Warrington to deal with, but they came back strongly and had they not conceded a late penalty they could’ve won in normal time.
Warrington essentially won this game because of a greater sense of composure. They worked some nice plays around the ruck and a few out wide, and their forward pack got better and better as the game went on. Special props (excuse the pun) for Adrian Morley, who is playing as well as I’ve seen him for a long time at the minute. He and Gareth Carvell put Lee Briers’ drop-goal opportunities on a plate for him with their surging runs (it was noticeable just how many more chances to win Warrington had in extra time; Briers missed two before he scored, whilst Paul Cooke only had the one effort charged down).
Warrington seem to start slowly at the minute, but once they get going they’re hard to stop. Morley and Carvell were immense all day (every time Morley got flattened by Makali Aizue, he got straight back up got back down to business). Briers is also back in form and crucially doesn’t appear to be trying to do everything himself. I also feel that Matt King is deserving of a special mention; he’s had his critics over the past eighteen months (and with good reason) but he had an excellent workrate, was threatening off of kicks all game, set up Jon Clarke’s try with a great pass (which was not forward – that was the momentum rule in effect) and scored a potentially messy finish with aplomb. At long last, he might just be finding his feet.
Bt also credit to Hull KR, who were great for most of the game except for their faltering towards the end. They scored some beauties (especially Jake Webster’s rounding off of a fab team effort). Even in defeat they looked good, and are now clearly established as a top side. I’m thinking that Shaun Briscoe might just be finding himself in an England shirt at some point this season. In the end, what really cost KR this game was a lack of composure at the death. However, this is the sort of defeat which will provide a valuable learning expereince ahead of the playoffs.
Alas, for the Robins the Wembley dream is dead. For Wire, it’s more alive than ever. This could be fun…