Leeds Rhinos: Ryan Hall (2), Joel Moon, Tom Briscoe. Goals: Kevin Sinfield: 4/5.
Warrington Wolves: Chris Bridge, Stefan Ratchford, Ben Westwood. Goals: Chris Bridge: 2/3.
Ryan Hall scored a brace as Leeds Rhinos won through to the Challenge Cup final, overcoming Warrington Wolves in a dramatic contest on Saturday.
Hall scored twice in the first half as Leeds raced to a 14-0 lead before the break. Chris Bridge, Stefan Ratchford and Ben Westwood replied for the Wolves in the second half, but tries by Joel Moon and Tom Briscoe proved to be enough for the Rhinos.
Leeds will now face West Yorkshire rivals, Castleford in the Wembley final on Saturday the 23rd of August.
The Rhinos, beaten by the Wolves in the 2010 and 2012 Challenge Cup finals, will travel to the capital hoping to prevent a seventh successive final defeat.
Kevin Sinfield, on his return from a two game suspension, kicked a penalty for the first points of the clash after just two minutes. Warrington then spent the next 10 minutes valiantly defending their own try-line, with both Carl Ablett and Jamie Jones-Buchanan falling just short of the line in quick succession.
Warrington did begin to assert themselves in the contest but their defensive efforts took their toll, leading to a number of uncharacteristic errors.
Brian McDermott’s side eventually made their pressure count when quick hands down the left saw the ball come to Hall who fended off Joel Monaghan to score in the corner on 26 minutes. Sinfield tagged on the conversion to stretch the Yorkshire side’s lead to eight points.
Then, as half time approached, Hall notched his second try of the day after a fine counter attacking move. First, Zak Hardaker narrowly prevented a 40-20 before charging towards the half way line, then, Jamie Peacock carted the ball further forward and Ryan Hall eventually benefited after a fine cut out pass from Danny McGuire allowed him to stroll in on the left.
Sinfield kept his 100 per cent record up with the boot, giving Leeds a commanding 14-0 interval lead after an almost flawless first half performance.
With Tony Smith’s words ringing in their ears, the Wolves started the second half in much better fashion and they were the next to score when Chris Bridge crossed after Joel Monaghan leapt well to gather Richie Myler’s kick to the corner.
The try gave Warrington some palpable belief and they pressed on in search of another score. However, Leeds stood up to the pressure and, arguably against the run of play, came up with a four pointer of their own when Moon crossed after another fine pass from McGuire.
But Warrington remained determined and they touched down for their second try of the day through Ratchford following an offload from Ben Westwood. Bridge kicked the extras to leave Leeds 18-10 in front heading in to the last 20 minutes.
With time against them, Warrington looked to take some risks in the hope of getting back into the game, but this proved to be their downfall as a loose pass fell to Tom Briscoe who picked the ball up to race away and cross under the posts.
Sinfield’s successful kick put the Rhinos 14 points ahead with 10 minutes to play.
Westwood cut the deficit again with a try from close range in the closing minutes, but time ran out for the Wolves to force another score and the Rhinos held out to reach their fourth cup final since 2010.
WeLoveLeague’s Man of the Match: Danny McGuire.
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