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FULL TIME: Warrington Wolves 24 Hull FC 12
Man of the match Trent Waterhouse touches down the opening try to set Wolves on their way to victory. Pictures by Mike Boden
WARRINGTON Wolves are 80 minutes away from the Grand Final for the second successive year.
They booked a semi final trip to either Wigan or St Helens next weekend with a systematic dismantling of a determined but outclassed Hull side at The Halliwell Jones Stadium tonight.
Table toppers Wigan will exercise their right to choose their semi-final opponents in the ClubCall process tomorrow, Sunday, at 12.30pm, and will have Wolves or Leeds Rhinos to select from, with the non-chosen side travelling to St Helens instead.
Wolves never looked in danger of losing against sixth-placed Hull but after taking a 24-0 lead with tries from Trent Waterhouse, Richie Myler, Stefan Ratchford and Brett Hodgson there was plenty of nail biting going on as two Hull tries in seven minutes cut the gap to 12 points with eight minutes remaining.
But ultimately, it was the team who made the least errors over the 80 minutes and who took their chances that progressed to the last four for only the second time in Super League history.
Wolves recovered from a nervy opening 10 minutes to dominate territory with a superior kicking game supported by stubborn defence.
Tony Smith’s men were switched on, smart and clinical, gaining reward for their patient approach and attempts to capitalise on Hull mistakes.
Firstly, Aaron Heremaia gifted Wolves possession with a forward pass 10 metres inside his own half and Trent Waterhouse made the most of a Lee Briers kick in the next set.
Briers hoisted the ball across field and after Jamie Foster fumbled under pressure from Ryan Atkins it left the way open for back rower Waterhouse to pounce on the loose ball over the line with his long outstretched arms. Brett Hodgson converted for 6-0 after 14 minutes.
And then it was a knock on from Willie Manu and e penalty for offside that led to Wolves crossing for their second try.
Again Briers was in the mix with his snappy handling and Richie Myler’s angled dart to the line beating the fast advancing Hull defence, with Hodgson converting again.
Atkins and Briers made key tackles as Hull threatened Wolves’ line for the one and only time in an opening 40 minutes of mainly middle-channel running and ruck wrestling.
It was the same recipe for success at the start of the second half.
A Briers kick forced a goal-line drop out and Wolves raided down the middle where a Chris Hill offload handed Stefan Ratchford an opportunity which he gleefully took.
He bounced off one defender and spotted daylight behind the line so he prodded the ball forward and cleanly regathered from a favourable bounce off the post to touch down before full back Richard Horne could get close. Hodgson’s extras gave Wolves an 18-0 advantage with 54 minutes played.
Understandably, the game opened up as Hull sought a way to crack Wolves’ defence.
Tom Briscoe broke free and Manu thought he had put Foster over on his inside but the try was ruled out for a forward pass.
Probably the killer try came next with Myler leaving forwards Andy Lynch and Manu flat footed to scoot away and then supply a sublime inside pass for Hodgson to cross between the posts and convert for 24-0 after 63 minutes.
Briscoe got behind Michael Monaghan to touch down a Heremaia kick in the 68th minute and Foster converted to cut the gap to 18 points.
Hodgson had a try ruled out for obstruction in the build-up to Briers’ perfectly dabbed kick and then Hull showed more signs of life.
Ben Crooks charged over from a Horne pass after a scrum and Foster’s touchline conversion left it at 24-12 with eight minutes remaining.
Wolves had done enough though to finish their home campaign on a high in front of a disappointing 7,323 crowd but will need to step it up again next weekend to keep their league and cup double dream alive once again.
Wolves: Brett Hodgson; Joel Monaghan, Stefan Ratchford, Ryan Atkins, Chris Riley ; Lee Briers, Richie Myler; Adrian Morley , Micky Higham, Chris Hill, Simon Grix , Trent Waterhouse, Ben Harrison . Subs: Michael Monaghan, Tyrone McCarthy , Mike Cooper , Paul Wood . Hull: Richard Horne; Jamie Foster, Jordan Turner, Kirk Yeamna, Tom Briscoe; Brett Seymour, Aaron Heremaia; Liam Watss, Danny Houghton, Andy Lynch, Willie Manu, Joe Westerman, Martin Aspinwall. Subs: Ben Crooks, Mark O'Meley, Chris Green, Jay Pitts.