Beaten but


not disgraced



by Gary Skentelbery pictures Neil Ashurst

THERE was no disgrace in this 30-38 defeat to the best team in Super League as the curtain came down on Warrington Wolves league campaign.
The Wolves showed that when they put their minds to it they are capable of mixing with the best as they raced into a surprise 16-0 lead.
But the visitors hit back with some breathtaking rugby during a 21-minute period when they went from 16-0 down to 28-16 ahead by the interval.
Saints ran in seven tries with Ade Gardner and Paul Wellens each claiming a brace and one apiece for Jon Wilkin, Willie Talau and Vinnie Anderson.
The result leaves the Wolves in sixth spot facing a trip to Headingley Carnegie to take on Leeds Rhinos in the opening match of the post-season play-offs on Friday.
The Wolves made an impressive start, scoring three tries in the opening 15 minutes to storm into a 16-0 lead.
Lee Briers was an inspirational figure during the early stages, creating tries for Paul Wood, Richie Barnett and Ben Westwood.
But the momentum shifted on 18 minutes when St Helens back rower Wilkin shrugged off the attentions of Henry Fa'afili to touch down.
That was the signal for the Saints back division to move through the gears and the points started to flow as Wellens crossed twice and Gardner and Wilkin once each prior to the interval.
Warrington continued to fight hard after the break and tries from Martin Gleeson and Toa Kohe-Love reduced the deficit to four points at 28-24 with half-an-hour remaining.
But Saints showed why they have finished eight points clear at the top of the regular season table as tries for Talau and Anderson gave them some breathing space at 38-24.
Chris Bridge rounded off the scoring with a 72nd minute try.
Despite the defeat Head Coach Paul Cullen saw some encouraging signs.
"There were great signs of the character that we need to take us to the next level," he said.
"I think we have seen enough which allows us to have some confidence in our physical and mental toughness.
"We're hardened by the season that we've had, we're hardened by our win against Hull last week and our effort against the best side in the competition. It was a very brave effort and a performance of no little skill. "We've attempted to take on the most offensive side in the competition and run them off the park - and we very nearly did it."
Meanwhile it was an emotional occasion at half-time when former club skipper Mike Gregory was inducted into the Past Player's Hall of Fame.
Members of the Past Players made the presentation to Sam and Ben Gregory, Mike’s sons. Mike watched on from the stands.
He played loose forward for he club between 1982-1994 making 246 appearances (including subs) scoring 45 tries.
He joined the club from Wigan St Patrick’s in June 1982 and quickly established himself in the first team winning the Lancashire Cup, the Premiership Trophy in 1986. He scored two tries on his debut for GB v France in 1987 and then went on to be made Warrington Captain in February 1988.
He was Warrington’s only representative on the 1988 GB Tour to Papua New Guinea playing in all 5 tests.
He then went on to captain Warrington to victory in the Lancashire Cup against Oldham in 1989, which led to him being named GB Captain for the series against NZ.

Warrington (16) 30
Tries: Wood, Barnett, Westwood, Kohe-Love, M. Gleeson, Bridge
Goals: Briers (3)

St Helens (28) 38
Tries: Wilkin, Gardner (2), Wellens (2), Talau, V. Anderson
Goals: Lyon (5)
Att: 13,024

  • Pictures show Martin Gleeson in action against his former club and Rob Parker. Also pictured is the presentation to Mike Gregory's sons by members of the Past Players Association.
    Pictures courtesy of Neil Ashurst www.pandbpictures.com

    FINAL ENGAGE SUPERLEAGUE 2006

                  P  W  D L   F   A    Pts
    1 St Helens   28 24 0 4  939 430   48 
    2 Hull        28 20 0 8  720 578   40 
    3 Leeds       28 19 0 9  869 543   38 
    4 Bradford*   28 16 2 10 802 568   32 
    5 Salford     28 13 0 15 600 539   26 
    6 Warrington  28 13 0 15 743 721   26 
    7 Harlequins  28 11 1 16 556 823   23 
    8 Wigan*      28 12 0 16 644 753   22 
    9 Huddersfld  28 11 0 17 609 711   22 
    10 Wakefield  28 10 0 18 591 717   20 
    11 Castleford 28  9 1 18 575 968   19 (R)
    12 Catalans   28  8 0 20 601 894   16 
    
    
    *Two points deducted for breaching salary cap