Wolves pack take down Giants
Warrington set up a mouth-watering Challenge Cup Final clash with Leeds after a convincing 33-6 semi-final win over Huddersfield. Former LS Sport editor Joseph Short reports…
Full-back Brett Hodgson was in impervious form, orchestrating his Wolves side from the back as they ground down an inspiration lacking Giants side to outclass their opponents by five tries to one.
Touchdowns from Garreth Carvell and Ryan Atkins gave Wolves a lead they never looked like surrendering after Huddersfield had taken the early advantage with a neat Scott Moore try.
Their momentum didn’t stop there as Joel Monaghan went over before half time after Scott Grix went walkabout, the Giants suffering a dose of semi-final nerves as they fell victim to mistake after mistake throughout a one-sided affair.
Huddersfield have a concerning record of no Challenge Cup wins against Warrington since 1933
A couple of Hodgson goals added to a neat try by the full-back, and Stefan Ratchford’s meandering solo effort confirmed Wolves’ passage to Wembley.
Huddersfield went into the game with a concerning record of no Challenge Cup wins against Warrington since the final at Wembley in 1933. The tie was a repeat of the 2009 final where Wolves ran out 25-16 victors, and their confidence was evident despite an early scare.
For Wolves dominated the opening phases yet could do nothing to prevent Giants scoring on their first attack. Brough punted a magnificent 40-20 to move Huddersfield up the field, and moments later David Fa’alogo nipped in behind a dummy run, offloaded to Scott Moore who piled over after just nine minutes.
Tony Smith’s side immediately returned with a barrage of pressure: Lee Briers’ cheeky dummy pass releasing Garreth Carvell, who crawled over the line to draw Wolves level.
Both sides were guilty of wasting chances
Midway through the first half both sides were guilty of wasting chances. Briers was the first to break through a loose Giants pack, but was eventually closed down 15 metres out when other options were available. A minute later and Michael Lawrence’s freak chest pass failed to find a man when the whitewash was in sight, much to the dismay of the Giants faithful.
The mistake was capitalised on moments later, when Ryan Atkins shouldered two tackles to fall over in the right corner.
Five minutes later a high kick baffled Giants’ Scott Grix, who claimed to have been obstructed under the ball, but the video referee was happy to give Joel Monaghan a simple touchdown as Warrington went in 18-6 at the break.
Giants came out for the second half with new vigour, Leroy Cudjoe a video ref’s call away from halving the deficit. Aaron Murphy was one lucky bounce from freedom on the left wing, while Grix tightened up at the back.
Hodgson turned entertainer for the Wolves fans
But Huddersfield couldn’t iron out their mistakes, and after a series of handling errors up the field, Murphy fluffed a high ball to gift Wolves possession. Three tackles later and Michael Monaghan wriggled free to touch down what was surely the winner, but the video ref again saw an infringement, cancelling the try.
Warrington were unperturbed by the decision however, ripping apart Huddersfield’s left side on their next attack. Hodgson danced through a gap wider than the M60 overlooking Salford City’s stadium to put the game out of reach.
Hodgson turned entertainer for the Wolves fans behind the posts, punting two kicks to stretch their lead beyond all doubt, before Stefan Ratchford rounded off a prancing Warrington attack to add six more with just four minutes remaining.
The win sees Warrington into their third Challenge Cup Final in four years, where they will face a Leeds side they beat 30-6 to lift the trophy two seasons ago.
Photo: Domingo Swift