GUARDIAN VERDICT, CHALLENGE CUP FINAL: Warrington Wolves 35 Leeds Rhinos 18 (From Warrington Guardian)
Text us your news! Start your message Warrington News and send any photos or videos to 80360
GUARDIAN VERDICT, CHALLENGE CUP FINAL: Warrington Wolves 35 Leeds Rhinos 18
Adrian Morley, Lee Briers and Ryan Atkins celebrate a momentous third Challenge Cup title in four years. Pictures by Mike Boden and Dave Gillespie
WHAT a cup final, what a team, what a win!
Tony Smith’s primrose and blue heroes blew away the champions with a second-half scoring blitz in a physical and incident-packed Wembley showdown.
At the heart of it was braveheart Brett Hodgson – bruised, battered and knocked out early in the second half but the full back got back on his feet to deliver his own brand of punishment at a critical time.
The tries he helped engineer for Chris Riley and Ryan Atkins sent Wolves on the road to victory.
And he topped off his Lance Todd Trophy award with the final try as Wolves reached a club record 35 points in a Challenge Cup Final.
First of all, the platform had to be laid by the pack who withstood an opening-set barrage of big-gun collisions and basically told Leeds ‘You’ll have to do better than that’.
After aggressively throwing everything but the kitchen sink at Wolves’ powerhouses it must have hurt bodies and minds when super Bennie Bestwood dumped niggly nuisance Ryan Bailey on his behind as well as Ben Harrison and Chris Hill delivering perfect offloads in the build-up to the opening try finished off by Joel Monaghan after Myler’s visionary kick.
Wolves were on top and had it not been for the heavens then throwing down a deluge of rain Smith’s men may well have gone on to bag a hatful before half time.
Some rare soft defence from Hodgson allowed Ian Kirke to sneak a try back for Leeds and Wolves had to grit their teeth for a while as they overcame handling mistakes and moments of frustration in the wet conditions.
Kevin Sinfield booted over the first of two penalties when Leeds would probably have been better served camping on the Warrington line in a bid for more tries.
Perhaps he was concerned with the lack of penetration his team had been showing and that the game may remain tight with the stormy conditions.
After it possibly dawned on referee Richard Silverwood that he had given Leeds five penalties to Wolves’ none, some Rhinos indescretions were finally spotted.
Wolves were never behind from that point and the manner of that score was a sign of things to come in the second half.
After the clobbering of Hodgson – and Brett Delaney’s subsequent try that was ruled out due to Kylie Leuluai knocking the ball forward in the tackle – Wolves set about winning the game through their left-sided players.
Smith’s men must have seen weakness in Leeds’ defence on that flank but also usual chief try maker Briers was pre-occupied with a ton of defensive work thrown at him and Stefan Ratchford as well as concentrating on winning the territorial battle with his wonderful kicking game.
So, after Myler’s massive hit on Zak Hardaker forced one drop out and then a grubber from Briers earning another, it was left to Hodgson to chime into the line and deliver telling passes for the Riley and Atkins tries that put Wolves 22-10 ahead.
The dummy-running work of back rower Waterhouse was also key in those scores, forcing Sinfield and Kallum Watkins to stand guard on him and leaving Wolves with two-on-one situations with winger Ben Jones-Bishop.
By the time Tyrone McCarthy benefited from Westwood’s miracle offload for his first try in three years it already seemed certain the cup was on its way home to Warrington.
Briers hammered in the nail of the coffin with a drop goal that delivered a 19-point advantage. Hodgson’s try on the left, after he was afforded too much space by defenders waiting for him to pass, was sandwiched by two consolation efforts from former Latchford Albion junior Watkins.
Overall, it was definitely tougher than the wins in 2009 and 2010 and yet Wolves did the business with their oldest cup-winning team ever (player average close to 29 years).
There is no substitute for experience, class, quality young talent and the ability to deliver when it matters. Wolves have got the lot and are capable of the double!
35 points is a Wolves record in a cup final.
Six tries equals Warrington’s previous best in a cup final, matching clash with Leeds in 2010.
Brett Hodgson’s 14 points from one try and five conversions equals the previous Challenge Cup high for a Warrington player, matching Derek Whitehead’s total from seven kicks in 1974.
Hodgson became only the fourth Australian to win the Lance Todd Trophy as the cup final’s man of the match.
Joel Monaghan became the first Warrington player to score in every round of the cup in one season, taking his 2012 cup total to seven tries. The last player to score in every round was Wigan’s Frano Botica in 1991.
Joel and Michael Monaghan became the first Australian brothers to appear in the same team in the Challenge Cup Final.
Warrington’s oldest team to win the Challenge Cup. Total sum of the ages of all 17 players is 487 (average 28.647). Total for the 2010 team was 486.
Tyrone McCarthy became the first sub to score in a Challenge Cup Final for Warrington.
Wolves beat Huddersfield, Catalan and Bradford en route to beating Leeds in the final, just like in 2010.
Adrian Morley’s 150th appearance for Wolves.
Chris Riley is one try short of a career century.
Challenge Cup Final at Wembley Saturday, August 25, 2012
Leeds Rhinos...18 Warrington Wolves...35
Leeds: Zak Hardaker; Ben Jones-Bishop, Kallum Watkins, Carl Ablett, Ryan Hall; Stevie Ward, Kevin Sinfield; Kylie Leuluai, Rob Burrow, Jamie Peacock, Jamie Jones-Buchanan, Brett Delaney, Ryan Bailey. Subs: Ian Kirke, Darrell Griffin, Shaun Lunt, Jimmy Keinhorst.
Wolves: Brett Hodgson; Joel Monaghan, Stefan Ratchford, Ryan Atkins, Chris Riley; Lee Briers, Richie Myler; Chris Hill, Micky Higham, Garreth Carvell, Trent Waterhouse, Ben Westwood, Ben Harrison. Subs: Adrian Morley, Michael Monaghan, Paul Wood, Tyrone McCarthy.
Scoring: Joel Monaghan try, 6mins, Hodgson goal, 0-6; Kirke try, 20mins, Sinfield goal, 6-6; Sinfield penalty after Wood punch on Ablett, 25mins, 8-6; Waterhouse try, 32mins, Hodgson goal, 8-12; Sinfield goal after Briers penalised for obstruction, 40+mins, 10-12; Riley try, 49mins, 10-16; Atkins try, 55mins, Hodgson goal, 10-22; McCarthy try, 59mins, Hodgson goal, 10-28; Briers drop goal, 63mins, 10-29; Watkins try, 70mins, 14-29; Hodgson try, 74mins, Hodgson goal, 14-35; Watkins try, 79mins, 18-35.
Pens: Rhinos 6 Wolves 6
Referee: Richard Silverwood
Top man: Brett Hodgson
Full back, Brett Hodgson 9/10: Received 27 of 36 votes cast for Lance Todd Trophy winner. Took some hammer and got up from being knocked out to earn a pressure relieving penalty and then helped to set up two tries, crossed for one himself and kicked five goals from six attempts.
Right winger, Joel Monaghan 8/10: In the right place when it mattered to score the opening try and become the game’s first player in 21 years to score in every round of the cup. Kept England winger Ryan Hall quiet and flew down the wing in the build-up to Tyrone McCarthy’s try.
Right centre, Stefan Ratchford 8/10: Did not see heaps of possession but worked hard to stifle Leeds’ left-hand threats. Had a try disallowed early on for a Ben Westwood knock on that looked a dubious call considering one that Lee Briers got away with in the second period.
Left centre, Ryan Atkins 8/10: Benefited from Wolves launching their most threatening attacks on the left against his home city, scoring one try himself and putting another on a plate for Chris Riley. Contributed important ball carries out of Wolves’ end when forwards needed respite.
Left winger, Chris Riley 8/10: Positioned himself well for his first try in three attempts at Wembley. Gave the forwards valuable support with ball carries, living up to his ‘pinball wizard’ reputation as a menace to put down. Produced a key tackle to banjo Kallum Watkins into touch.
Stand off, Lee Briers 9/10: Superb tactical kicking game which ensured Wolves dominated the second-half territorial battle. Tactically superb, marshalled the troops brilliantly and put his body on the line in defence. Extended his own club drop goal record in a career to 71.
Scrum half, Richie Myler 9/10: Possibly his best game for Warrington and second behind Brett Hodgson for man of the match. Great vision to kick ahead for opening try, provided pass for Trent Waterhouse’s try and his big hit on Zak Hardaker sparked winning scoring spree.
Prop, Chris Hill 8/10: From Northern Rail Cup to Challenge Cup glory in just over 12 months. Never took a backward step. His drive set Richie Myler away to create opening try for Joel Monagahan. One of numerous Wolves who had a tete-a-tete with Rhinos penalty machine Ryan Bailey.
Hooker, Micky Higham 8/10: His control early on and accurate distribution from dummy half gave a platform for the forwards to do their business. Like a spring chicken with his trademark darts that helped to put the team on the front foot. Shirked nothing in defence either.
Prop, Garreth Carvell 8/10: Gave out as much as he took in the battle up front that paved the way for the triumph. Another to have a little ‘ruck’ with Ryan Bailey and came out on top in the end. A true cup king, with this being his fourth win in five finals with Hull and Warrington since 2005.
Second rower, Ben Westwood 8/10: Typical aggressive super Bennie Westwood display, with no backward steps. A wonder offload put Tyrone McCarthy over for a second-half try. Super come-to-daddy tackle on Rob Burrow and a blockbuster effort dumped Ryan Bailey on his backside.
Second rower, Trent Waterhouse 8/10: Workaholic in his first cup final who carried three defenders over the line to put Wolves in front for half time. The Australian’s presence and decoy runs caused chaos in the Leeds ranks for tries by Chris Riley, Ryan Atkins and Brett Hodgson.
Loose forward, Ben Harrison 8/10: Got through a lot of the dirty work and his willingness to promote the ball gave Wolves second-phase play that Leeds struggled to cope with. Memorable second-half run of 30 metres relieved pressure on the team’s try line just when it was needed.
Sub, Michael Monaghan 9/10: Carried on the good work started by Micky Higham. Best game of the season so far, perhaps even better than his Lance Todd display in 2009. Intelligent reading of the game, fast out of the blocks and made history with Joel as first Aussie brothers in the final.
Sub, Paul Wood 8/10: Always eager for work and gave Wolves a visible lift when arriving on the field with Adrian Morley. Regularly got his nose through the defensive line with explosive charges combined with some nifty footwork approaching the points of collision.
Sub, Adrian Morley 8/10: Only the sixth player in the competition’s history to become a winning captain three times and did so on his 150th Wolves appearance. With Paul Wood, added pace and bite down the middle just as the rain was threatening to dampen proceedings. In great form.
Sub, Tyrone McCarthy 8/10: Lived up to the form of recent months playing as a third prop in the loose forward position. Took a great catch off his bootlaces in the slippery conditions to make the most of Ben Westwood’s wonder pass for only the third try of his Wolves career.
WHAT THEY SAID
Ben Westwood: “I think after half time was where we won it. We had a talk at half time and said that we needed to step up our game and go to the next level. “I think we did that. I don’t think Leeds could handle it when we did either, so that was the turning point.”
Garreth Carvell: “They came firing and they were really disappointed. They have not won the cup for 13 years and they came really determined. “We were ready for that though. Everyone played well, apart from me! The storm did make it a little bit difficult. It became harder to hold the ball and completion dropped as a result. “In the heat of it, we drop a ball and they drop a ball. It tends to even itself out a bit. They came strong but I think that we were always confident that we were in the driving seat.”
Trent Waterhouse: (on the Hodgson tackle) “They have been penalising for those recently. “Obviously they got him in the head because he was out cold. I thought he knocked on anyway, so even if it was a fair tackle it shouldn’t have been a try. At the end of the day that was the call and we made the most of it.”
Chris Riley: “It was a lot tougher than the previous two finals. We didn’t get everything our own way like we did in those. “Leeds stuck in there and maybe a few calls in the second half might have changed the game around. “I thought some of the stuff we produced in the second half was what we’re capable of. We showed how we can score tries and ran away with it.”
Simon Moran: “It was very tough even in the first half but Warrington just seemed to step up another gear and did the business again. “In the second half they played brilliantly and you have to congratulate the team.”
Chris Hill: “It was very physical. We knew they were going to bring it to us in the first 20 minutes so we had to bear up to that. If we could get through that we knew we could get through from there.”
Stefan Ratchford: “I couldn’t really get much ball in hand but defensively Leeds probably targeted our right side with me and Briersy being together. “I think we ended up with about 70 tackles between us. We worked hard in defence.”
Tony Smith: “There were a lot of crucial points but it is about taking your chances when they arise in these sorts of matches particularly. Sometimes you only a get a few and if you don’t take them that can hurt you. “In the first half our control wasn’t great. I don’t usually bang on about completion rates but we turned over the ball five times at the halfway line in that first half and it was pretty evident what we needed to do in the second half in order to turn it around.”