THEY knew what was coming.

In the moments immediately before Salford Red Devils’ winning try, Warrington Wolves’ players and coaches could be heard screaming “Lussick! Lussick!”

The Red Devils hooker’s modus operandi is well known – extremely dangerous close to the line and one of the best in the business at burrowing over from dummy-half.

They telegraphed the play, but they still could not stop it and in the end, it cost them their Wembley dream.

Warrington Guardian:

As they watched their opponents celebrate reaching the Challenge Cup Final for the first time in half a century, The Wire were left to reflect on the fact a third consecutive appearance under the arch should have been sewn up.

Their performance was far from perfect while not lacking in effort, but they had more than enough control to have closed this game out.

When Ben Murdoch-Masila got over the line against his former club, Gareth Widdop’s conversion put them 10 points in front with less than a quarter of the game remaining.

A far from insurmountable lead, but they will know they should have been able to keep Salford at arm’s length from there.

Warrington Guardian:

Credit has to go to the Red Devils, though – Ian Watson has worked his magic again to give his inexpensively-assembled team another moment in the sun.

So where did it go wrong for The Wire?

> VIDEO: The moment Price thought the semi final turned against Wire

Handling errors were high on both sides in the St Helens squall as wind and rain swirled around to make conditions tricky at best and borderline farcical at worst.

In the main, Warrington handled them reasonably without putting on the wet weather rugby clinic Leeds Rhinos did in seeing off Wigan Warriors in the opening act of the double header.

Warrington Guardian:

Blake Austin and Gareth Widdop kept Salford pinned down for most of the second half with a solid kicking game, but both were guilty of key errors which proved critical.

Immediately after Murdoch-Masila’s try, Widdop allowed Krisnan Inu’s kick-off to slip through his hands and go dead in goal, giving Salford the position that led to James Greenwood’s try.

And while the sharpness of the line defence – usually a strong point of this Wire side – must be questioned for Lussick’s winner, Austin handed them possession by sending a kick soaring out on the full.

That is what will annoy Steve Price most about this one that got away – while there was skill and ingenuity aplenty about all four of Salford’s tries, each one was entirely avoidable from a Warrington perspective.

Talk of a trophy treble can now be placed firmly aside and time for wound-licking is brief.

Warrington Guardian:


. The first time Wire have failed to reach the Challenge Cup Final in Steve Price's reign

. Stefan Ratchford's 250th Warrington appearance

. Gareth Widdop kicks his 500th career goal


Challenge Cup, semi final

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Salford Red Devils...24 Warrington Wolves...22

Red Devils: Dan Sarginson; Krisnan Inu, Kris Welham, Kallum Watkins, Rhys Williams; Tui Lolohea, Kevin Brown; Lee Mossop, Joey Lussick, Gil Dudson, Tyrone McCarthy, James Greenwood, Mark Flanagan. Subs: Greg Burke, Seb Ikahihifo, Elliot Kear, Pauli Pauli

Wolves: Matty Ashton; Josh Charnley, Anthony Gelling, Toby King, Jake Mamo; Stefan Ratchford, Gareth Widdop; Chris Hill, Daryl Clark, Mike Cooper, Jack Hughes, Ben Currie, Blake Austin. Subs: Joe Philbin, Ben Murdoch-Masila, Jason Clark, Danny Walker

Scoring: King try, 13mins, Ratchford goal, 0-6; Ratchford penalty, 19mins, 0-8; Watkins try, 22mins, Inu goal, 6-8; Austin try, 36mins, Widdop goal, 6-14; Inu penalty, 39mins, 8-14; Inu try, 42mins, 12-14; Widdop penalty, 52mins, 12-16; Murdoch-Masila try, 62mins, Widdop goal, 12-22; Greenwood try, 66mins, Inu goal, 18-22; Lussick try, 75mins, Inu goal, 24-22

Penalties: Red Devils 3 Wolves 4

Sin bin: McCarthy (12mins, dangerous tackle)

Referee: Liam Moore