With Super League back underway post-lockdown, Jack Walker reviews the highly-contested clash between Warrington Wolves and Hull KR at Headingley.
|1st||Try Ben Crooks (Hull KR)||Hull KR 0-4|
|12th||Anthony Gelling (Warrington) – SIN BIN||Hull KR 0-4|
|16th||Shaun Kenny-Dowall (Hull KR) – SIN BIN||Hull KR 0-4|
|22nd||Try Tom Lineham (Warrington)||Tie 4-4|
|24th||Goal Stefan Ratchford (Warrington)||Warrington 6-4|
|35th||Try Sitaleki Akauola (Warrington)||Warrington 10-4|
|37th||Goal Stefan Ratchford (Warrington)||Warrington 12-4|
|45th||Try Anthony Gelling (Warrington)||Warrington 16-4|
|53rd||Try Josh Charnley (Warrington)||Warrington 20-4|
|54th||Goal Stefan Ratchford (Warrington)||Warrington 22-4|
|62nd||Try Gareth Widdop (Warrington)||Warrington 26-4|
|64th||Goal Stefan Ratchford (Warrington)||Warrington 28-4|
|70th||Try Stefan Ratchford (Warrington)||Warrington 32-4|
|71st||Goal Stefan Ratchford (Warrington)||Warrington 34-4|
|76th||Try Adam Quinlan (Hull KR)||Warrington 34-8|
|77th||Goal Ryan Brierley (Hull KR)||Warrington 34-10|
|80th||Try Tom Lineham (Warrington)||Warrington 38-10|
|80th||Goal Gareth Widdop (Warrington)||Warrington 40-10|
Warrington were favourites ahead of the match, but KR’s creative identity was there for all to see right from off. The kick off was played short and the ball was worked over to the right hand side and back again wide left where Ben Crooks was waiting to cross over in the corner to give his side a dream start at Headingley.
With seven tries in five games before kick-off, Crooks is Super League’s leading try-scorer and his eighth of the season was a statement of intent from the Red and Whites.
Rovers, however, are known for making simple errors and Adam Quinlan’s knock on gave the Wolves great position. Nothing came from it, but the warnings signs were there. The Robins – and Quinlan in particular – responded well, but the full-back again knocked on and his try was instantly ruled out by the referee.
The game was instantly stretched when both sides were reduced to twelve men and the Wolves almost took advantage of the extra space, but Ryan Brierley’s brilliant last-ditch challenge denied Blake Austin underneath the sticks.
Despite losing five consecutive Super League matches before lockdown, KR turned the tide to beat Leigh Centurions 22-19 at KCOM Craven Park to re-instill a much-needed winning feeling and their fans will have been dreaming of another victory in this one.
But Warrington weren’t going to be denied for long. Moments after Will Dagger’s try was correctly prevented due to a KR forward pass, Warrington raced through the heart of their opponents’ defence and Tom Lineham made the scores all square before Stefan Ratchford added the conversion.
Wire fans may have expected their side to pull away from the Robins once their team hit the front, but the East Hull side were in no mood to let that happen and only Josh Charnley’s clever interception stopped the lead from changing hands for a second time in the first half.
Warrington supporters would soon be celebrating, though, as Sitaleki Akauola went over to stretch their advantage – the Tonga international bulldozed his way through the middle with Ratchford again adding the extras.
Having scored in the first minute of the half, Rovers almost repeated the feat in the final second of it, but Ratchford’s stunning tackle on the line prevented Mitch Garbutt from reducing the arrears on the hooter.
The dynamic, creative play in the first half truly deserved a full crowd to witness it, and thousands of empty Headingley seats were the only dampener in a ferocious first forty.
And the second forty started just as brightly. Warrington found their groove late on in the first half, continuing cause KR problems, and Anthony Gelling used all his hamstring strength to reach down over the line and ground the ball.
The first half was a real contest, but the Wire were relentless by this point. The ball was moved out to the right with super quick hands on show to set up Josh Charnley’s second try of the campaign to all but finish Hull KR off.
Tony Smith’s side have shipped a gigantic 169 points in their six previous Super League games, with only arch rivals Hull FC holding a worse record. To highlight their weakness even further, the Robins’ margin of defeat this season averages out to more than 24 points.
And the Wolves looked like worsening that stat. They’d won their last two games before the season’s suspension – the most recent victory coming in a landslide 38-4 victory away to Rovers’ cross-city rivals Hull FC – a scoreline which had the potential to be beaten tonight.
Gareth Widdop went over just after the hour mark before Ratchford moved his side just ten points short of replicating the FC result and when Quinlan made another error at the back for Hull KR, Warrington’s star full-back walked in their sixth try moments before leaving the field.
KR simply couldn’t live with Warrington’s attacking prowess, who recorded their eighteenth Super League win against the Robins, but they did at least get a consolation on the board with five minutes remaining when Quinlan atoned for his earlier error to score their second try.
Rovers opened the scoring in the first minute, and the Wolves finished it in the last. Toby King broke through the centre before feeding Lineham over his right shoulder and Widdop kicked the final two points as Warrington won by thirty.
On a side note, there was a minute’s silence to remember both the victims of COVID-19 and Jordan Cox, who played in the Super League for both clubs, following his death earlier this year, and he would have been proud of both his former employers’ attacking play.
GAME HIGHLIGHT – Lineham’s leveller
Everyone expected Warrington to win and, in the end, it was rather straightforward. But when KR hit the front in the first minute, the Wolves needed to respond and who else but Mr. Lineham? He doesn’t create many these days, but boy does he finish and, although it was a simple one on this occasion, he was in the right place at the right time to pull his side level and shift the momentum in the Wire’s favour.
Warrington Wolves: Chris Hill, Daryl Clark, Michael Cooper, Ben Currie, Jack Hughes, Jason Clark, Blake Austin, Gareth Widdop, Josh Charnley, Anthony Gelling, Toby King, Tom Lineham, Stefan Ratchford, Joe Philbin, Sitaleki Akauola, Danny Walker, Matthew Ashton
Hull Kingston Rovers: Adam Quinlan, Will Dagger, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Kane Linnett, Ben Crooks, Ryan Brierley, Jamie Ellis, Nathaniel Peteru, Matt Parcell, George Lawler, Matty Gee, Weller Hauraki, Dean Hadley, Elliot Minchella, Daniel Murray, Kyle Trout, Mitch Garbutt