A last-gasp drop-goal from Lee Briers secured a dogged 19-18 win for Warrington against Leeds at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.

The absence of a recognised kicker hurt the visitors, who outscored a lacklustre Warrington side by four tries to three.

However, Brett Hodgson's three conversions to Zak Hardaker's solitary goal left Warrington with a fighting chance until the end of the match, in spite of Leeds' dogged defence and clinical finishing.

Warrington began with a bang in the first five minutes, looking far sharper and more determined against a Leeds side who seemed resigned to defeat.

Their early pressure paid off when after five minutes, Mickey Higham dropped on his own audacious grubber kick through an unaware Leeds defence; Hodgson converting to give the hosts a 6-0 lead.

The momentum swung to the visitors, however, on the nine minute mark, as Leeds scored with their first foray into the Wire half; Ryan Hall taking advantage of Joel Moon's flick pass to touch down in the corner for an unconverted try.

Hall's try gave Leeds a spring in their step, as they became more confident in their chances of victory and consequently became more adventurous, but their second try was a result of Warrington's failed creativity.

Liam Sutcliffe ran 80 metres to score on 13 minutes after picking up Stefan Ratchford's loose offload, a try which owed just as much to the indecision of the chasing Chris Riley than it did to the youngster's pace. Again, the try was unconverted by Hardaker.

After Sutcliffe's effort, the flair disappeared from the match for the remainder of the first half, giving way to a scrappy encounter that belied the glorious summer conditions.

A barren, yet intense second quarter was punctuated by a disallowed try for Higham on 20 mintues after the video referee flagged for a knock on against Chris Hill and several excellent defensive efforts from Leeds, the most notable of which saw Warrington's Mike Cooper miraculously denied close to the line, keeping the score at 8-6 to Leeds at half time.

Leeds bagged the first score of the second half, when two minutes in, Hall scored his second, intercepting Chris Bridge's pass and sprinting 90 metres to score in the left corner, leaving a difficult conversion for Hardaker, who failed to convert for a third time.

Warrington continued to dominate possession as they had done in the first half, but they seemed devoid of ideas, often losing attacking momentum through loose passes and flat attacking lines in promising situations.

They were rewarded for their persistence, and the weakness of Leeds' defence from dummy half, when Ratchford squeezed over on 55 minutes for a converted try which leveled the scores.

Four minutes later, Leeds made another of their attacks count when Hardaker finished off a one-two pass with Sutcliffe to score near the posts, which allowed him to finally kick his first conversion of the day to give the visitors a six point lead at 18-12.

This only spurred Warrington on, however, and they leveled the scores again on 65 minutes, as Lee Briers, who otherwise had an off day with the boot, produced a classic kick to the corner for Joel Monaghan, who knocked the ball down for Hodgson to touch down and convert his own try to level the scores, after the video referee's confirmation.

The last 15 minutes belonged to the hosts, and their relentless offense brought several chances for drop-goal king Briers to seal the victory.

It was third time lucky for Briers, who had missed two previous attempts before slotting the winning kick with 50 seconds of time remaining to clinch a victory that their sheer industry arguably deserved.

 

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Topics:
#Warrington Wolves
#Leeds Rhinos
#Lee Briers
#Super League
#Rugby League