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A crisp Warrington Wolves have overcome a plucky Leeds Rhinos and poor London conditions to record an emphatic 35-18 Challenge Cup Final victory.
Fullback Brett Hodgson was named the Lance Todd trophy winner as man of the match, the fullback shrugging off a bone-crunching Kylie Leuluai tackle to score the match-sealing try, as well as booting five conversions.
Warrington opened the scoring in fine conditions, at their offloading best as Micky Higham and Chris Hill created second-phase space for Richie Myler. Myler's kick to the corner was pinpoint, and Joel Monaghan found nobody home as he gathered the ball to open the scoring. Warrington nearly had a second in similar fashion minutes later, Ben Westwood spilling a difficult pass with support outside and little in front.
Fine rugby league was on display from both sides, Lee Briers' 40/20 attempt only outdone by the athletic ability of Zak Hardaker to deny it. Warrington's discipline slipped and Leeds capitalised, Ian Kirke singling out Micky Higham and Brett Hodgson in the line after back to back penalties to the Rhinos. The big man spun his way out of the combined efforts, touching down to the right of the posts and when Sinfield converted it was all locked up.
It wouldn't have been a London game without the elements playing some part, and when the skies opened after 20 minutes Brian McDermott resembled a drowned rat on the sidelines. On the pitch both sides attempted to persevere with expansive footy, the errors mainly coming in the play the ball as both sides struggled for momentum and territory. A period of sloppy play saw frustrations boiled over, and when Carl Ablett and Paul Wood faced off fireworks replaced the rain show that had dominated the match. Wood's solid effort to Ablett's jaw was regretted seconds later, when Kevin Sinfield cooly slotted the penalty to put Leeds ahead.
That was to be the only time Leeds saw the lead, Trent Waterhouse barging over in the watery conditions to put Warrington back in front on the half hour mark. The try came off successive penalties to the Wolves, and Leeds' poor discipline was made to play as the second rower crashed through Kevin Sinfield, Ben Jones-Bishop and Kallum Watkins to score.
The difference was back down to two just before halftime, Sinfield electing to do what he does best when Warrington were penalised for a block on the kick-chase by Lee Briers, the penalty goal making it 12-10 to Warrington at halftime.
It wasn't always an easy night at the office for Hodgson, who was flattened in a brutal, legal tackle from Leeds prop Kylie Leuluai. Brett Delaney claimed the try, but it was brought back for a double knock on after a length inspection of the tackle.
It was all Warrington in the next period, three tries in 10 minutes and a Lee Briers drop goal for good measure seeing the lead explode to 19 points within a 12 minute period. Ben Jones-Bishop was caught in no man's land twice as first Chris Riley, then Ryan Atkins, found space on the left edge, and when Tyrone McCarthy collected Ben Westwood's offload to crash over, the game was nearly out of reach for Warrington. Briers' drop goal made it four tries required for the Rhinos, and though they clawed two back through the size, speed and strength of Kallum Watkins, it was too little too late when man of the match Hodgson capped a memorable victory for the Wolves.
Leeds Rhinos 18 were defeated by Warrington Wolves 35
Challenge Cup - Challenge Cup 2012 - Saturday August 25, 2012 11:30pm
Venue: Wembley Stadium
Referee: Richard Silverwood
Video Referee: Phil Bentham
Touch Judges: James Child and Tim Roby
Halftime: Leeds Rhinos 10 Warrington Wolves 12
Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:
3 Points - Brett Hodgson (1 Try, 5 Conversions)
2 Points - Lee Briers (1 Field Goal)
1 Point - Richie Myler
LEEDS RHINOS (18)
Tries: Ian Kirke, Kallum Watkins (2)
Conversions: Kevin Sinfield (1/3)
Penalty Goals: Kevin Sinfield (2/2)
WARRINGTON WOLVES (35)
Tries: Ryan Atkins, Brett Hodgson, Tyrone McCarthy, Joel Monaghan, Chris Riley, Trent Waterhouse
Field Goals: Lee Briers (1/1)
Conversions: Brett Hodgson (5/6)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Warrington Wolves go into tonight's Challenge Cup final firm favourites, but an understrength Leeds side is confident it can avoid a third straight defeat at Wembley. The Rhinos went down to the Wigan Warriors last year and will be looking to exact revenge for their 2010 defeat at the hands of the Wolves.
80,000 fans will cram the stadium to watch the best of English football go head to head in the only competition of its nature in rugby league, and you can follow all the action right here on Leagueunlimited.com, through our live update service.
Kickoff is at 2.30pm local; 11.30pm AEST.
JOIN THE CONVERSION ON TWITTER @LeagueUnlimited using hashtag #CCFinal
Referee: Richard Silverwood
Final teams for the clash:
Leeds Rhinos: Zak Hardaker, Ben Jones-Bishop, Kallum Watkins, Carl Ablett, Ryan Hall, Stevie Ward, Kevin Sinfield, Kylie Leuluai, Rob Burrow, Jamie Peacock, Jamie Jones-Buchanan, Brett Delaney, Ryan Bailey. Interchange: Ian Kirke, Darrell Griffin, Shaun Lunt, Jimmy Keinhorst
Warrington Wolves: Brett Hodgson, Chris Riley, Stefan Ratchford, Ryan Atkins, Joel Monaghan, Lee Briers, Richie Myler, Chris Hill, Micky Higham, Garreth Carvell, Trent Waterhouse, Ben Westwood, Ben Harrison. Interchange: Adrian Morley, Michael Monaghan, Paul Wood, Tyrone McCarthy
1 min: Kevin Sinfield kicks off and we're underway at Wembley!
2 min: Jamie Peacock with a fantastic 20 metre run for Leeds, carrying two or three Warrington defenders. Tough opening exchanges.
4 min: Both kickers taking a bit of a hammering early on: Sinfield taking a Carvell hit on this occasion.
5 min: Penalty to Leeds! Young centre Stefan Ratchford knocked the bomb forward, and Monaghan picked it up from an offside position.
6 min: Some questionable decisions from Leeds on attack - Ward ignores a seeming overlap outside him, and Sinfield giving Burrow a hospital pass on the last.
8 min: TRY
TRY TO WARRINGTON!
After dual offloads Chris Hill makes a strong run through the middle, producing one of his characteristic offloads for a supporting Richie Myler. Myler's vision sees the winger has been drawn in, and his kick to the corner in broken play is collected by Joel Monaghan for the opening points. The ever-reliable Brett Hodgson's conversion is good from a difficult position.
Warrington Wolves 6-0
9 min: Another strong run from Micky Higham from dummy half continues the roll-on for Warrington.
10 min: Offloads are again troubling the Leeds defence, and Warrington busted the line. The pass wide to Ben Westwood was spilt to let Leeds off the hook.
11 min: Kevin Sinfield kicks for his wingman Ryan Hall, who is caught on the last tackle. Handover to Warrington, 10m out from their own line.
13 min: Whilst many pundits predicted a brutal opening exchanges, Warrington have looked to tire Leeds by creating second phase play through good offloads.
14 min: Knock on Warrington! The ball trickled from Gareth Carvell's grasp as he rose to play the ball. Leeds will attack from the scrum, 40m out.
15 min: Knock on Leeds! Carl Ablett looked to have beaten his opposite number, but his pass to Ryan Hall was spilt under the attention of Joel Monaghan.
16 min: Lee Briers produces a fine 40/20 attempt, and Zak Hardaker displays his athleticism in denying it.
17 min: Jamie Peacock puts in another busting run, topped with a sharp offload to Rob Burrow.
18 min: Knock on Warrington! Ryan Atkins looked for Chris Riley with a flick pass, but Riley can't collect it and it trickles into touch.
18 min: Penalty to Leeds! The Warrington line is caught offside. Leeds attack from 20m out from the line.
19 min: Penalty to Leeds! Ryan Bailey looked to have lost it, but the call is for a strip. Leeds build pressure further.
19 min: TRY Hunslet Hawks (NL2)
TRY TO LEEDS RHINOS!
Ian Kirke went to line and looked to have been wrapped up, but produces a superb spinning effort and showed great strength to break the efforts of Brett Hodgson and Micky Higham to find the try line. Sinfield makes no mistake from in front.
The skies have opened in London, the rain now absolutely bucketing down. Neither team have played wet weather football so far, will they update their tactics?
22 min: Knock on Warrington! The conditions take their first victim, Chris Hill losing the ball untouched in the play the ball. Leeds attack from 40m out from the Warrington line.
23 min: Sinfield's stabbing kick through is well trapped by Lee Briers, who looked to have knocked on but it's play on.
23 min: Knock on Warrington! Trent Waterhouse spills it in the tackle.
23 min: Penalty to Leeds! Paul Wood is penalised for striking Carl Ablett. He's planted a good one on Ablett's jaw as the two big men shaped up.
23 min: Kevin Sinfield has decided to shoot for goal - 38m out, towards the scrumline on the left side of the pitch.
24 min: PENALTY GOAL
Sinfield has crafted a legend from landing pressure kicks, and as the rain helpfully stops he makes no mistake here.
Leeds Rhinos 8-6
25 min: Both sides manning up in defence, targeting the ball. Warrington at least showing they're still willing to offload.
26 min: Knock on Warrington! Chris Riley takes the bomb, but under the immediate attention of Jamie Jones-Buchanan it slips from his grasp. Leeds ball from 10m out.
27 min: Penalty to Leeds! Joel Monaghan looked to take advantage of the slippery conditions to take Carl Ablett over the sideline, but the held call had come.
28 min: Penalty to Warrington! After Sinfield's kick pinned Brett Hodgson in the corner the Leeds line was adjudged to have shot up tooearly. Warrington to continue their attack 40m out from their own line.
29 min: Penalty to Warrington! Darrell Griffin collected M. Monaghan high, and through subsequent penalties Warrington will attack the Leeds line.
30 min: TRY
TRY TO WARRINGTON WOLVES!
In torrential conditions it was suitable that Trent Waterhouse was the man to smash his way over. The combined efforts of Sinfield, Jones-Bishop and Watkins weren't enough to stop the rampaging second rower. Hodgson's conversion is successful.
Warrington Wolves 12-8
So often in Super League the pattern is double penalties lead to a try, and with tensions simmering just below the surface and enthusiasm high both teams will need to curb their indiscipline in the conditions.
32 min: Penalty to Warrington! A play the ball infringement gifts Warrington easy ground.
32 min: Penalty to Warrington! Again we see two penalties put Warrington well and truly on the attack.
33 min: Play has been stopped for Jamie Jones-Buchanan, who is helped from the field. In the wet conditions he looks to have twisted his knee awkwardly.
33 min: Briers stabs the grubber through, but it's well collected by Zak Hardaker at the back.
35 min: Penalty to Warrington! Kevin Sinfield's long kicking again turns the Warrington back three around, but they're let off the hook by a high tackle, the offender Ryan Bailey.
36 min: Michael Monaghan ran into the Leeds markers appealing for a penalty, but it's not forthcoming. Leeds will run the ball from 15m out from their own line.
37 min: Knock on Warrington! Another lazy loss in the play the ball, Ryan Atkins letting the pill go on halfway.
39 min: Sinfield's cross-field kick for Ryan Hall is collected by Joel Monaghan, but the penalty will go to Leeds for a block by Lee Briers.
39 min: Indeed it will come back to 5m out from the Warrington line, making J. Monaghan's run upfield for nothing. Sinfield has again elected to kick for goal.
39 min: PENALTY GOAL
Despite the four points potentially on offer Sinfield kicks for goal, and is successful.
Warrington Wolves 12-10
An interesting decision from Sinfield. Leeds fans have seen him kick them to victory numerous times, but on this occasion going for the try seemed the smarter option.
40 min: Halftime here at Wembley, Warrington narrowly in front 12-10.
The first half of the 2012 Challenge Cup has had it all: blazing sunshine, bucketing rain, big hits, strong runs, punches thrown and exciting tries. No matter your opinion on the Cup itself, this has been an entertaining fixture.
Kevin Sinfield, Lee Briers and Michael Monaghan are previous winners of the Lance Todd Trophy for man of the match. Monaghan has a try already, while Sinfield's kicking - both in open play and off the tee - has been superb, and Briers has been involved in several Warrington breaks. Last year prop Jeff Lima took it out, and this year both sides' big men have been very good in the wet conditions.
41 min: Lee Briers gets us back underway in the second half
42 min: Lee Briers produces a good kick for the conditions, the first to find the in-goal area this game. Hardaker returns to his 10m line.
43 min: POSSIBLE TRY TO LEEDS RHINOS! The ball has been spilled by Brett Hodgson on the kick return, and Brett Delaney is claiming a try.
43 min: Brett Hodgson could be forgiven for thinking he's jsut been in a car crash. He's run straight into Kylie Leuluai's shoulder, the question is where first contact occurs.
43 min: The ball looks to have hit Leuluai's arm - the video referee has a few things to examine.
43 min: The decision is NO TRY! A double knock on is called, Hodgson (who is back up and okay) the first and then Leuluai the second.
44 min: Leeds attack the Warrington line from the scrum.
44 min: Sinfield again picks out Ryan Hall with the kick, who offloads to Ablett who finds himself promptly over the sideline.
46 min: Penalty to Warrington! The Leeds markers are pinged for not being square. Warrington attack from just inside the Leeds half.
47 min: Myler's kick through the line for Atkins is collected by Hardaker.
47 min: Leeds ran the ball across field too close to their own line, and Myler hammers him into his own in-goal.
47 min: Lee Briers spills the drop-out, but the referee rules play on.
48 min: Joel Monaghan goes up against Ryan Hall in the air. Neither can gather it cleanly and Hardaker accompanies it over the dead-ball line. Warrington again with possession from the drop-out.
49 min: TRY
TRY TO WARRINGTON WOLVES!
Inside work crafted the overlap out wide, and the unfortunate indecision of Ben Jones-Bishop was on display for all 80,000 fans at Wembley. Atkins goes to Chris Riley on his outside, who finishes in the corner. Brett Hodgson's difficult conversion attempt is wide.
Warrington Wolves 16-10
51 min: Kallum Watkins shows size, strength and speed to produce a break down the right, but in the conditions as soon as he lost his feet he was swiftly into touch.
54 min: Lee Briers' offload finds Chris Hill, who is brought down inches short. His follow-up grubber is only foiled by a diving Ryan Hall, and Warrington will get the ball back from the drop-out, Leeds' third of the game.
55 min: Briers starting to impose himself on the game, avoiding three would-be tacklers on a swerving run. Warrington on the attack.
55 min: TRY
TRY TO WARRINGTON WOLVES!
Richie Myler went out the back to Hodgson joining the line. He sums up the situation and finds Ryan Atkins on the wing, who crosses for the try. Ben Jones-Bishop again trapped in no-man's-land. Hodgson's conversion from the same position as last time - right on the edge - is successful this time around.
Warrington Wolves 22-10
57 min: Ryan Hall's big fend disposes of Joel Monaghan's defensive efforts on the kick return. Leeds with the ball from their 30m line.
58 min: After a good start to the set Leeds are caught standing very flat, and some poor passing results in a bad end to the set.
59 min: POSSIBLE TRY to WARRINGTON WOLVES! The man who took the last spot on the Warrington bench, Tyrone McCarthy, has collected a brilliant offload from Ben Westwood. Obstruction being checked with the video referee.
60 min: TRY
TRY TO WARRINGTON WOLVES!
The greatest beard in Super League, and possibly global sport, grabs a try in the Challenge Cup final. Leeds have looked out on their feet in recent sets, this could be the deciding blow. Hodgson's conversion is right over the black dot.
Warrington Wolves 28-10
60 min: The move was started by Stefan Ratchford, whose quick hands found Monaghan in space on the right. From the next play McCarthy crashed over for the try.
62 min: Kevin Sinfield caught on the 5th tackle means it again falls to Jimmy Keinhorst to provide a rushed kick.
62 min: In what will surprise no one, Ryan Bailey has been penalised for a late flop, from which a short exchange of pleasentries erupted.
63 min: FIELD GOAL
Lee Briers has gradually increased his role in this game, and from straight in front 20m out he snaps a drop-goal.
Warrington Wolves 29-10
64 min: Leeds regain the ball from the short kick-off. It's all or nothing from here, with the defending SL champions needing four tries.
66 min: Carvell offloads for Ben Harrison, and Leeds are penalised for holding on too long in the tackle.
67 min: Knock on Warrington! Leeds are let off the hook as Ryan Atkins' offload is put down.
79,180 fans have witnessed a fine game here at Wembley, Warrington still holding Leeds out despite enterprising play.
69 min: TRY
TRY TO LEEDS RHINOS!
As soon as I say Leeds are being held off Kallum Watkins finishes a superb move on the right, Sinfield's conversion unsuccessful.
Warrington Wolves 29-14
71 min: Leeds producing some champagne desperation football, Zak Hardaker producing a fine run.
72 min: A bewildering passage of scrappy play results in 6 again to Leeds, attacking from 10m out!
72 min: A poor pass from Rob Burrow hits the deck, and Ben Harrison cleans it up for Warrington, before going on a run.
73 min: Knock on Leeds! Lee Briers drills the ball dead, and Kallum Watkins knocks on from the tap.
74 min: TRY
TRY TO WARRINGTON WOLVES!
Brett Hodgson dummies outside and steps in, sliding over to seal the Challenge Cup victory for Warrington and consigning Leeds to a third straight defeat on the biggest stage. His conversion of his own try is good.
Warrington Wolves 35-14
77 min: Warrington again drill the ball dead, and with three minutes left the Warrington songs are ringing around Wembley.
78 min: The Lance Todd trophy has been revealed, the honour going to Warrington's livewire fullback BRETT HODGSON
79 min: TRY
TRY TO LEEDS RHINOS!
Kallum Watkins has been Leeds' most dangerous on attack this afternoon, and with one last show of resistance he gets outside Ryan Atkins, reaching out to score. Sinfield's conversion is wide.
Warrington Wolves 35-18
80 min: Watkins again finds space down the right, but his kick ahead is deflected and that's the game. Warrington are the 2012 Challenge Cup champions!