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Friday 9th September 2011, 20:00 - Round:27
|Joe Westerman 2,||T||Ryan Atkins, Chris Riley 2, Michael Monaghan, Chris Bridge, Joel Monaghan,|
Joe Westerman 2,
Chris Bridge 4, Lee Briers,
Attendance: 10,845 Official: S Ganson Venue: Kingston Communications Stadium
Tony Smith’s classy Warrington Wolves side claimed the club’s first League Leaders’ Shield since 1973 with a comprehensive final-round win at Hull FC tonight.
The two points mean the Wolves have finished with a total of 44 from the 54 available during the regular season - just one above reigning champions Wigan Warriors, who beat Crusaders RL this evening.
While tonight’s win confirmed their status as the league’s top dogs, it was last Sunday’s 39-12 victory over Wigan that laid the foundations, and the fact that this success was achieved without the services of inspirational captain Adrian Morley owing to eye surgery will offer Smith even more comfort.
The Australian's men are more than worthy table-toppers - their total points tally for the season of 1,072 justifies that alone - and as a result they will face fourth-placed Huddersfield Giants in the first round of the play-offs next Friday.
They may not be able to call on the services of Garreth Carvell for that game, though, after he was placed on report for a high shot on Will Sharp.
But while Smith makes his preparations for that game, Hull boss Richard Agar knows he is just one defeat away from the end of his time with the club.
It was confirmed earlier this week he would be leaving at the end of the season, with a move to Wakefield Trinity Wildcats announced today, and his current club must now travel to Leeds Rhinos or Catalan Dragons in a one-life play-off shoot-out, while still facing the ignominy of potentially being overhauled by bitter rivals Hull KR in the table.
It was an unfortunate way for Agar to end his seven-year stay at the KC and, on this evidence, his side look some way off being one that can cause a stir from seventh or eighth place in the play-offs.
A bank holiday win at Warrington aside, they have frequently struggled to match the league’s bigger names and that was evident within six minutes here as England centre Ryan Atkins robbed Joe Westerman of possession and ran 30 metres to score.
Chris Bridge added the goal before Hull flickered into life, with Westerman making amends for his error by collecting Richard Horne’s flat pass and holding off three tacklers before sliding over.
He added the extras to his try and could have laid on another four-pointer not long after but, with three men on an overlap, he found himself facing the wrong way and was quickly locked up by an eager Warrington defence who have aided a points difference of +671 this season.
If Hull were frustrated by their failure to move ahead, they were aggravated further when they fell behind again in the 20th minute, the impressive Atkins drawing in Jordan Turner and feeding Chris Riley to score by the corner flag.
David Solomona, one of Warrington’s key forwards, then limped off after attempting to tackle Cameron Phelps, but another member of their pack lightened the mood not long after.
Michael Monaghan is a leading candidate to lift the coveted Man of Steel award on Monday night and he showed just why when he scooted in from close range with 24 minutes on the clock.
Three tries quickly became four when Atkins turned Richard Whiting and sent the supporting Riley in for a second, with another breakaway try, this time from Bridge off a Brett Hodgson burst, rounding off the first half.
Riley nearly started the second with a hat-trick try but he stepped in touch as he looked to swoop on Lee Briers’ stunning crossfield kick, while only a superb ankle-tap from Willie Manu stopped Joel Monaghan from going in for a sixth Warrington try.
To their credit, Hull had a healthy percentage of possession and, after being repelled time and again, Westerman finally earned them some reward for their efforts when he scraped over for his second.
It was only temporary relief, though, as Atkins and Briers sent Joel Monaghan hot-stepping in to send a travelling contingent of 2,000 fans into party mode.
TA: Try assists
MT: Marker tackles
MI: Missed tackles
TB: Tackle busts
AT: Attacking kicks
AG: Av gain
CB: Clean break
DR: Run from dummy half
FT: Forty twenty
MG: Missed goals
Clean Breaks: 3