By Rachel Arnett (images by swpix)
Warrington Wolves and Leeds Rhinos travelled to the University of Bolton Stadium to compete in game two of the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup Semi Final double header. Catalans Dragons booked their place at Wembley beating St Helens in game one, which side would be joining them on the big stage?
Answer: Warrington Wolves; are off to Wembley!
The two sides had met twice this year prior to this game; Leeds taking the spoils in round one of Super League and the Wire claiming victory in some style over at Headingley.
The Wire made just one change to the side that narrowly missed out to Saints last week, George King on the bench in place of Sitaleki Akauola.
Leeds were able to welcome back a number of players including Richie Myler, Ryan Hall, Jamie Jones-Buchanan and Adam Cuthbertson.
The first half saw Warrington take control of the momentum early on with just a minor blip which the Rhinos took advantage of to score. The Wire soon rectified that to take back the score board with tries for Lineham, Charnley, Brown and Murdoch-Masila.
The second half kicked off more in favour of the Rhinos as they narrowed the gap early on but the Wire managed to stay composed to maintain enough control to seal the win, crossing for even more points.
Stefan Ratchford, Tom Lineham, Bryson Goodwin, Toby King, Josh Charnley, Kevin Brown, Tyrone Roberts, Chris Hill, Daryl Clark, Mike Cooper, Harvey Livett, Jack Hughes, Ben Westwood
Subs: Ben Murdoch-Masila, Declan Patton, George King, Joe Philbin
Tries: Lineham (2), Charnley (2), Brown, Murdoch-Masila, T King, Goodwin
Goals: Roberts (8)
Jack Walker, Tom Briscoe, Ash Handley, Liam Sutcliffe, Ryan Hall, Joel Moon, Richie Myler, Adam Cuthbertson, Matt Parcell, Brad Singleton, Brett Ferres, Carl Ablett, Jamie Jones-Buchanan
Subs: Brad Dwyer, Mikolaj Oledzki, Nathaniel Peteru, Josh Walters
Tries: Hall, Cuthbertson
Goals: Sutcliffe (2)
Leeds were first to put boot to ball to kick off the semi final. At the end of the first set a high ball from Roberts was claimed in the air by Toby King who got it away to Charnley; he made it over the line but couldn’t quite get the ball down. Knock-on was ruled, Leeds ball. Another chance soon followed on the back of a Brown kick but the ball was fumbled in the left corner.
On five minutes another grubber kick to the in-goal by Brown was carried out of play by the Leeds’ right edge, a drop-out and another chance for the Wire to build some pressure but a Ratchford offload aiming for Charnley went into touch.
Nine minutes in and a dummy from Roberts opened up space for the halfback to get to within 10 metres. Leeds were penalised for holding him down in the tackle and the Wire opted to go for goal to take a 2-0 lead, Roberts making the kick.
It was however the Rhinos who were first over the line for a try, despite the Wire having controlled the momentum in the opening stages. On 12 minutes space opened up down the left edge for Hall to score out wide as they ran it on the last from 10 metres out. Sutcliffe added the touchline conversion. 2-6.
In the next Leeds’ attack the Wire were trapped in-goal after a kick to the corner by Myler was taken by Charnley in a try-saver. The Wire then defended the line well to relieve the pressure.
Ratchford made a break on 18 minutes after a nifty show-and-go, reaching the line. But the Rhinos chased him down forcing a knock-on over the line to deny the equaliser.
The equaliser soon came though on 22 minutes when Lineham broke away on the back of a scrum to run 95 metres, flying over under the sticks. Roberts landed the conversion from in front to edge the lead. 8-6
Minutes later and Toby King set up the next try for the Wire, plucking the ball out of the air from a Roberts’ high ball. He got the pass away to Charnley on his outside who touched down in the corner. Roberts was on target with the touchline conversion 14-6
On the half hour mark the Wire were over again off the back of Leeds being penalised for interference at the play the ball, this time through Brown under the sticks from close range. An easy conversion for Roberts 20-6
With just a minute to half time Murdoch-Masila broke through the line to get on the score sheet. Roberts lined up the kick after the hooter to add the extras 26-6 at the break.
The second half didn’t get off to the best of starts for the Wire, kicking out on the full, but managed to rally to keep the Rhinos out with their following attack.
The Rhinos were over on 45 minutes though, attacking on the back of a Wire drop-out. Cuthbertson the scorer under the sticks making for an easy conversion, Sutcliffe adding the two. 26-12
They looked to be over minutes later with a short ball to Myler at close range, but it was pulled up as a forward pass, scrum to the Wire.
On 54 minutes Hughes got painfully close for the Wire, held up over the line on the last despite attempting to reach over from close range.
As the final quarter approached the Wire weren’t to be denied again. Charnley taking a pass from his inside from Clark to cross in the corner. Roberts slotted over the conversion, adding a penalty goal soon after from in front to make it 34-12 with 15 to go.
As the final 10 minutes approached a cheeky dummy from Toby King down the right edge opened up space for the centre to fly over in the corner unchallenged. A tricky kick for Roberts but he landed it from the touchline. 40-12
The Wire weren’t done yet through as Goodwin was next to cross for a try as play swept from right to left. Roberts the conversion for the first time that afternoon. 44-12.
And to finish things off Lineham grabbed an intercept try to run over 80 metres. Westwood lining up for the kick, with no luck, but the Wire are Wembley bound!