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FULL TIME: Warrington Wolves 30 Huddersfield Giants 22
Wolves celebrate victory over the league leaders as they book a place in the Grand Final. Pictures by Mike Boden
OLD Trafford here we come!
Warrington Wolves have booked a second successive Grand Final appearance thanks to tonight’s defeat of table toppers Huddersfield Giants at The Halliwell Jones Stadium.
After a ninth successive defeat of the Yorkshire outfit, Wolves will face the winners of tomorrow night’s qualification semi-final between Wigan Warriors and Leeds Rhinos in the showdown at Manchester United’s home ground on Saturday, October 5, kick off 6pm.
Simon Grix and Joel Monaghan both struck twice to sink Huddersfield.
Two tries in seven minutes from Monaghan and Grix late in the first half turned a 10-6 deficit into an interval lead that Wolves never lost, although they did live dangerously late on.
Scrum half Richie Myler, who grew sluggishly into his first game since August 3, was instrumental in both key scores.
And another fine touchdown from Ryan Atkins five minutes into the second half looked to have taken Wolves out of reach, especially as they played smart from then on with regular kicks ensuring the majority of the action took place in the Huddersfield half.
But it was nerve-wracking though, as Huddersfield pulled 12 points back from two rare second-half attacks.
It was then, at 24-22 with four minutes remaining, that Briers’ deceptive cross-field kick was allowed to bounce by Huddersfield and Grix pounced for his second try that proved decisive.
Wolves were on fire from the first whistle, smashing into the Huddersfield forwards from Stefan Ratchford’s deep kick off and then scoring from their second set after a penalty had been conceded for holding down.
Chris Bridge sucked in both Joe Wardle and Aaron Murphy before slipping a wonderful pass for Joel Monaghan to walk over for his 29th try of the season. With Ratchford slotting over a sweet touchline conversion, it was 6-0 after two minutes and the stadium was rocking with early euphoria.
But dangerman Danny Brough struck back for Huddersfield, initially intercepting to put the visitors on the attack. And then after Ben Westwood knocked on, Brough touched down his own grubber kick after Westwood, Chris Bridge and Ratchford all made a mess of clearing the danger. Brough’s conversion levelled matters after nine minutes.
Huddersfield started to get a share of the dominance at the ruck and made it count.
A Riley knock on from a twisting Brough high kick paved the way for the next score, with Shaun Lunt and Luke Robinson combining to find 18-year-old full back Jake Connor on an angled run and he was able to squeeze the ball down despite the attentions of three defenders. Brough missed his touchline conversion to leave Giants 10-6 in front after 24 minutes. The stadium was suddenly much quieter.
Wolves sparked up again on the back of a penalty for substitute Mike Cooper being held down and that man Joel Monaghan crossed again from short range off another Bridge pass.
The hard work was done by Myler, though, creeping into the line in back play to receive Briers’ pass and make the extra man that provided the space for Bridge to exploit. Another wonderful touchline conversion from Ratchford nudged Wolves back in front at 12-10 after 35 minutes.
Larne Patrick’s grapple tackle on Westwood allowed Wolves to raid again and establish an 18-10 lead in the second minute of added time, lifting the crowd’s spirits.
Initially, Briers darted from first man and was held up over the try line but from the next tackle Myler’s angled grubber kick was fluffed by Leroy Cudjoe and Simon Grix pounced. Ratchford’s extras ensured Wolves entered the interval with an eight-point advantage.
And the crucial first try of the second half came Wolves’ way courtesy of Ryan Atkins clutching Lee Briers’ kick out of the air and scorching the final five metres to score. Outstanding drives from Adrian Morley and Westwood laid the groundwork and with Ratchford potting the conversion Wolves led 24-10 after 45 minutes.
A Garreth Carvell knock on around his own 20m line allowed Giants to get back into it, as a lobbed pass from Luke Robinson allowed Jermaine McGilvary to beat Myler into the corner. Brough’s touchline conversion cut the deficit to eight points with 51 minutes played.
But for all of Wolves’ domination of possession and territory, Huddersfield kept hanging in there.
And the gap was down to two points after 74 minutes when Dale Ferguson stepped between Bridge and Hill to cross for a score converted by Brough in a set that came from a forced drop out.
But Grix had the final say with his second try to send the Wolves supporters into dreamland.
Wolves: Stefan Ratchford; Joel Monaghan, Chris Bridge, Ryan Atkins, Chris Riley; Lee Briers, Richie Myler; Paul Wood, Micky Higham, Chris Hill, Ben Westwood, Simon Grix, Ben Harrison. Subs: Adrian Morley, Michael Monaghan, Garreth Carvell, Mike Cooper.
Giants: Jake Connor; Jermaine McGilvary, Leroy Cudjoe, Joe Wardle, Aaron Murphy; Danny Brough, Luke Robinson; Eorl Crabtree, Shaunt Lunt, Craig Kopczak, Brett Ferres, Jason Chan, Michael Lawrence. Subs: Larne Patrick, Ukuma Ta'ai, Dale Ferguson, Kyle Wood.
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