Warrington Back to Winning Ways
Hockenhull penalty in overtime seals superb win at Waterloo and complete the double.
Firwood Waterloo 19 Warrington 20
In a pulsating game, which ebbed and flowed across the field for 80 minutes, Warrington, who had lost six of their previous seven matches, beat an on-form Waterloo outfit, who are currently second in the league and had won seven of their previous eight games, by a single point. Even so, the result was not decided until the last kick, when overtime was already being played.
Waterloo stamped their authority on the game from the start, with their muscular pack. They were dominant in the scrum and their line-out proved immaculate throughout. The home side were also winning the collisions providing good ball to their free-running backs and another Warrington loss seemed very much on the cards. This impression was confirmed within ten minutes when Waterloo forced a five yard scrum and used the possession to drift over for a try which was converted.
Five minutes later, Waterloo struck again and good handling by the backs created a second try to see them take a 12-0 lead.
Warrington were now very much under the cosh, starved of possession and very much on the back foot but gritty defence kept their opponents from adding to their score. However, from the first real possession that Warrington enjoyed, Ben Hockenhull slotted over a penalty and the deficit was cut. At this stage, Waterloo seemed to be benefitting from every bounce of the ball but, at last, Warrington were give a sliver of hope when Tom Arnold scythed through the defence and his excellent run was carried on by Phil Lynch. Unfortunately, this came to nothing and, after yet another bout of unseemly fisticuffs, the teams turned around with Waterloo very much inn the driving seat.
However, in the second half glimpses of Warrington’s early season form started to appear, as the backs started to regain self-belief. This was especially the case with Steve Pilkington, who posed a threat every time he touched the ball. And it was a Pilkington break which brought Warrington’s first try when the centre made a good forty yards before releasing Nathan Beesley and the young speedster outpaced the cover to cross in the corner and then cut inside to touch down behind the posts and make the Hockenhull conversion a formality.
Warrington were now just two points adrift but, more importantly, they were now very much on the front foot. Although they were still outplayed at scrum and line-out, they were now starting to win turnovers and the increase in possession provided their second try when the ball was again distributed to the backs and left winger Max Caldwell was the beneficiary of some lovely handling and used his speed to touch down. Again, Ben Hockenhull converted.
But Waterloo were not quite finished and for the closing ten minutes their attack was relentless and only heroic Warrington tackling kept them out. Unfortunately, it looked as though heroism would not be enough when the home side forced a line-out five yards out and used all their strength and technique to drive over and then kick the conversion to take a two point lead with just one minute left on the clock. Many other sides would have accepted the inevitable but not Warrington on this day. A good restart kick took them into Waterloo territory and the pack followed up to regain possession. They then went through the phases, playing “keep ball” rugby until they received their due reward and Waterloo were penalised. With eighty minutes already played, Warrington knew that this was their last chance but up stepped Ben Hockenhull and his trusty boot placed the ball precisely between the uprights and Warrington could celebrate a famous victory.
“This was an excellent win,” enthused coach Andy Roberts. “Once again our defence was superb but at last we seem to have regained our attacking flair. We play Rochdale next week, surprise winners against Vale of Lune two weeks ago, demonstrating, as we did today, that every team in this league can beat every other side on the day. It should be a good game.”