Warrington Self Belief Proves Unbeatable
By David Jervis
Pace and flair overcomes forward power
Stockport 28 Warrington 36
This Warrington win over promotion contenders Stockport can be described by just one word – magnificent!! Although the deserved victory, which even denied Stockport the consolation of a losing bonus point, was secured in only the closing minutes, the way that Warrington countered the power of the Stockport pack by resolute defence and often scintillating attack was something to warm the hearts of all Warrington supporters, and coaches, on a bitterly cold afternoon.
However, Warrington’s start was less than auspicious, as Tom Wood uncharacteristically knocked on from the kick-off under his own sticks. The heavyweight Stockport pack swooped immediately and muscular power eventually paid off when a grubber kick was pounced on over the line and the conversion gave the home side a seven-point lead.
Warrington’s reply came within five minutes when, first, a typical bustling run from hooker Craig Byrne, and then an elusive break from Tom Arnold saw Darren Norman on hand to take the final pass and reduce Stockport’s lead to just two points. Warrington were then unlucky not to go ahead when an inch-perfect kick from Tom Wood was scrambled clear five yards out. But it was the home side who scored next when they once again used their awesome power up front to surge over from a line out. The try was converted.
The nine-point lead was short-lived. A short pass to Phil Lynch from the restart saw the dynamic wing forward, who was heroic throughout in a team of heroes, make twenty yards before handing onto Nathan Beesley. The winger used his dazzling pace before kicking ahead and Luke Gilhooley, who had slotted in seamlessly at stand-off, won the race to the line and touched down. Darren Norman converted to make the score 14-12 to Stockport at half time.
The second period was a see-saw affair, with the lead changing hands four times. First of all, Warrington scored when they showed great patience in the Stockport 22 before Nathan Beesley crossed in the corner. Darren Norman converted. Then Stockport finally realized that their best weapon was their forward pack and a prolonged series of pick-and-goes saw them crash over for a converted try.
At this stage, Warrington were taking quick penalties at every opportunity putting the Stockport defence under constant pressure. This strategy paid off when Kieran Hughes picked up a loose pass and handed onto Nathan Beesely, who scorched over for his second try. The Norman conversion made the score 26-21 to Warrington. Stockport came back with another forwards’ try and the conversion took them into the lead with just two minutes to play. However, a superb Darren Norman penalty nudged Warrington back in front and the game was decisively settled when Kieran Hughes pounced again and kicked ahead. The alert Steve Pilkington followed up and touched down under the posts to allow Darren Norman a simple conversion and Warrington had gained an unexpected five point win away at Stockport.
“I was proud of every member of the squad today,” enthused coach Andy Roberts. “”Most of all, I was proud of their self-belief, as they refused to surrender to a side, which, on paper, should have beaten them. We play league leaders Carlisle, at home, next week. If we show the same belief, I know we can win again.”