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Warrington reach Northern Under 17s final
4:20pm Tuesday 12th March 2013 in Sport
Chester u17 12 Warrington u17 27
WARRINGTON Rugby Club's junior colts were caught in a perfect storm.
Against a gutsy Chester team determined to go through to the Northern U17 final, Warrington were trapped by the elements and the opposition's no nonsense approach and territorial game plan.
Electing to play uphill against a freshening wind on a pitch resembling the Somme on a bad day was a brave move by skipper Riley but one that ultimately paid as Warrington extended their winning run to 18 games since the start of the season and secure a home tie in the final against Yorkshire high flyers Wharfedale on March 24.
Warrington were battened down in their own 22 metres for most of the the first half as Chester played a territorial game using a combination of wind, slope and swampy conditions to put Warrington under pressure and limit their attacking opportunities.
Chester scored first after a 5 metre scrum wheeled 90 degrees, confusion reigned and Chester's number 8 played to the whistle and strolled over the line as the Warrington lads looked at themselves thinking 'how did that happen?'
Although Warrington tried to break free from the elements their runners Sam Roberts, Nathan Beesley and Max Caldwell looked like they were running up an escalator in reverse as they slid about on the sticky surface.
Towards the end of the half Chester caught and drove from 5 metres out.
Warrington were as not physical as they should have been in defence and conceded a second score.
Half time and Warrington were faced with the unusual situation of being 12-0 down. The Chester management appeared divided as to whether this would be enough to secure an upset for the Raging Bull champions.
The tide turned in Warrington's favour moments after the kick off as it became the home team's turn to become beached at the bottom of the muddy hill.
Attacks were launched, Chester defended with vigour but began to tire as Warrington varied the point of attack and sent heavy guns Andy Adams and Joel Barker up the middle,committing defenders and opening up opportunities for pacier runners in the wider channels where the footing was firmer.
Harry Gagen finished well for try number one on the right and showed another welcome turn of pace off a well timed pass from Jack Gray for his second.
Jake Riley put Warrington in front for the first time with a 3 pointer with plenty of time still on the clock.
With both sides visibly tiring the bench formed a key strategy as Joe Wilson returned to the fray and crashed through for try number three.
With the clock ticking down scrum half Ben Hockenhull put some daylight on the scoreboard for the final try of the game.
Ultimately this was just the sort of hard fought, testing fixture that was needed to prepare the squad for future challenges ahead.