Hull KR 24 - Warrington Wolves 28
By Rachel Arnett (photo courtesy of Neil Ashurst, P&B Pictures)
The Tetley’s Challenge Cup always brings about entertaining weekends of Rugby League and as Super League sides Warrington Wolves and Hull KR prepared to face each other in this fourth round tie another classic was on the cards.
The history of the competition has seen the two sides meet on numerous occasions most memorable for the Hull KR fans was their win in 2006 but for the Wolves it was the one-point victory in 2009 which carried them one step closer to that year’s Wembley win.
But a new year, a new competition and in knock-out Rugby League anything can happen.
Tony Smith made two changes to the 17 with Paul Wood making his first appearance this season off the bench and Atkins back in the side in place of Glenn Riley and Gene Ormsby respectively. Rovers fielded the same 17 from last week’s Super League win.
The Wolves’ travelling support came by the coachload (literally) to cheer on the Primrose and Blue.
The first half started with end-to-end play from both sides before the home team took control with the opening two tries from Cockayne and Walker. The Wolves responded immediately on the 20-minute mark with Atkins following up a grubber kick from Myler. A Hull KR penalty edged the lead once again before Joel Monaghan scored in the corner to narrow the gap to just four points following build-up play by Hill, Russell and Westwood. At half time the game was very much open and was begging for one side to take it by the scruff of its neck. The second half saw the lead switch hands on several occasions but tries from Rhys Evans, Atkins and Asotasi secured the Wolves’ win
The Wolves stepped up in defence to close down Rovers in the first set of the game but the home side signalled their intentions soon after when a big hit on Grix dislodged the ball opening up a strong opportunity just 30 metres out.
The Wolves survived on this occasion and followed it up with a penalty after Hull KR were pulled up for a double attempt in the tackle. This was soon cancelled out though when a kick on the last was left to bounce and Rovers were back in possession.
The home side caused the Wolves a few problems early on, keeping the ball alive at close range and the visitors did well to hold them up.
But on 14 minutes the line was broken and Cockayne forced his way over for the opening try. Burns added the conversion. 6-0
Building some momentum saw Rovers over for a second in a matter of minutes. A penalty a few metres out for interference in the tackle handed the home side the field position they needed and Walker forced his way over to the right of the post. Burns added the extras once again. 12-0
It was then the turn of the Wolves to respond with a try of their own. A grubber kick from Myler was followed up well by Atkins who pounced on the ball to score. Bridge added the conversion. 12-6.
This didn’t faze the home side as they continued to build pressure. A loose offload from the Wolves saw Rhys Evans tackled in goal forcing a drop out which went out on the full. Burns stepped up for a penalty goal which he added to nudge ahead 14-6.
The last points of the half went to the Wolves. Strong build up play by Hill and Russell gained good ground before quick hands to the right opened up space for Joel Monaghan to score in the corner.
With less than a minute until half time the Wolves raced to form the scrum from a penalty for one last shot but the clock beat them and the home side went in 14-10 in front.
The Wolves started the second half with fighting spirit; a high ball from Ratchford’s boot was knocked on by Cockayne handing over an immediate penalty. Rhys Evans saw space open up down his wing and crossed to take the lead with a Bridge conversion. 14-16.
Rovers kept testing the Wolves’ defence but the visitors stepped up to hold them back, tackling on the last on several occasions. But on 51 minutes the home side were over again as Gardner broke the line to regain the lead at 18-16.
The Wolves’ never-say-die attitude came into play as the final quarter approached. Atkins chased Myler’s kick to touch down just inches before it went out of play. Bridge’s boot was on target again. 18-22.
The final stages of the game were nip and tuck. With 10 minutes to go Rovers had possession. But the run of play turned into Wolves’ favour and an offload by Russell mid-air was collected by Asotasi who darted across for what looked like the definitive score on 74 minutes with Bridge’s conversion making it 18-28.
But Rovers had other ideas and with just minutes to go they responded with a try from Caro which Burns converted to make it 24-28.
Despite the home side’s best efforts the Wolves held on to the win adding their name into the hat for the fifth round.
Head of coaching and rugby Tony Smith said: “ It was a good game. I thought both teams showed how much they wanted to win. There were opportunities for both teams at different stages. We made hard work of it at times with the way that we changed the ball over but having said that Hull KR were fighting really hard, putting pressure on us where they could but fortunately we were able to stay ahead for most of it.
“At the back end of that first half I thought we were a whole lot better and came up with some better plays. We started really positively in the second half and got ahead there. We are grafting away at the moment. It’s good that we’ve got that will, determination and that fight to get ourselves ahead even if we’ve been behind for a while.
“Hull KR were in for a scrap today and turned up and put on a good show. Their determination was very good, particularly in that first half, and we saw their fight and spirit at the back end of the game too. We’d love to dominate each and every game that we play and that is what we try to do but there are two teams in it and I thought Hull KR had their say. It was a good, hard tough game of Rugby League by two very determined teams.”
Ben Cockayne, Ade Gardner, Liam Salter, Kris Welham, Omari Caro, Travis Burns, Kris Keating, Adam Walker, Josh Hodgson, Mick Weyman, Kevin Larroyer, Jordan Cox, Neville Costigan
Subs: Keal Carlile, James Green, Jason Netherton, Rhys Lovegrove
Tries: Cockayne, Walker, Gardner, Caro
Goals: Burns (4)
Matty Russell, Rhys Evans, Chris Bridge, Ryan Atkins, Joel Monaghan, Stefan Ratchford, Richie Myler, Chris Hill, Micky Higham, Roy Asotasi, Trent Waterhouse, Ben Westwood, Simon Grix
Subs: Michael Monaghan, Paul Wood, James Laithwaite, Ben Evans
Tries: Atkins (2), J Monaghan, R Evans, Asotasi
Goals: Bridge (4)
Half Time: 14 – 10
Full Time: 24 - 28
Photo Gallery courtesy of Bob Brough