Awesome Defence Ensures Another Five Point Win
Supported by four excellent tries and laser guided kicks
Warrington 32 Manchester 0
The mantra that defence wins matches was comprehensively proved at Walton Lea Road on Saturday, where awesome defence provided the platform for four excellent tries and near-perfect goal-kicking. This outstanding win over Manchester gave Warrington their third bonus point win in three games and moves them to sixth in North 1 West.
Warrington were a little slow getting down to business. Although they were unlucky early on when Tom Arnold was tackled into touch feet short, Manchester then started to rule the lines and starve them of possession. However, midway through the half, there came a moment of pure brilliance. Keiron Hughes received the ball ten yards inside his own half. A little half step confused the would-be tacklers before he broke through the defensive line. He then threw two dummies to mystify the closing cover before changing gear to touch down under the posts. Ben Hockenhull converted.
The restart allowed Ben Hockenhull to show that he can kick just as well out of hand as he can convert place kicks when he put in a pin-point kick to the corner. Ten minutes later, Warrington came close to extending their lead when a scintillating Max Caldwell break saw him feed Kieron Hughes who then passed outside to Tom Arnold. The winger then attempted to hand the ball back to his centre but a stray Manchester hand deflected the ball into touch when a try seemed inevitable.
Manchester then tried to clear their lines but, unfortunately, six players were adjudged offside and Ben Hockenhull had no difficulty kicking the penalty to take his side into a 10 point lead.
The final quarter of the first half saw Manchester constantly on the attack. However, the Warrington defence, led by Sean Hughes, Sean Callendar and Phil Lynch, with some bone-crunching hits from Josh Downes, stood firm, even under relentless pressure on their goal line and the first period ended with Manchester being forced into touch just a yard out.
Manchester began the second half as they had ended the first, pressurising the Warrington line. This pressure was finally relieved when Paul Thomson took a strike against the head at a five yard scrum and Tom Wood put in the clearance kick.
A second Hockenhull penalty increased Warrington’s lead but they were still very much under the cosh. Eventually Sean Hughes gained a turnover in the red zone and drove forward. A Manchester misfield was pounced upon by Nathan Beesley and the winger showed his pace before handing onto fellow winger Tom Arnold who touched down in the corner. Ben Hockenhull’s laser-guided boot ensured the conversion.
Ten minutes later, a 40 yard break from Hockenhull took Warrington deep inside Manchester territory. Manchester averted the danger but the clearance kick went straight to Jamie Thompson 20 yards inside his own half. The full back scythed through the Manchester cover before passing to Steve Pilkington and the centre finished off in the corner. Once again, the Hockenhull boot added the extras.
Warrington were now playing champagne rugby and were unlucky again when Beesley was forced into touch. However, they had the last word, and claimed the four try bonus point, when a copy book effort saw the ball flash across the back line from a five yard scrum and Jamie Roberts finished off.
“I have run out of superlatives to describe our defence today,” said coach Andy Roberts. “And the way we took our chances was nothing short of excellent. That’s fifteen points from our last three games. Can’t be bad.”