Ohh Wanky Wanky…
We hate to say ‘told you so’, but the last line of the Wigan report told you not to be surprised to see us go and do Leeds at Headingley.
And didn’t we fucking do them?
Headingley has rarely been a kind venue for the Wire, but there have been some famous victories. *That* Briers drop goal in the playoffs in 2006, that *other* Briers drop goal back in 2002, a vital two points in the relegation battle that year and not to mention that rip-roaring 42-6 victory back in 2011 when we steam rolled everyone en route to the league leaders’ shield.
To win at Headingley anyway, you must perform well, but to take two league points from Headingley after the run of results we’ve had, considering the run of form they’ve been in, was special.
To call the performance magical would not be an understatement, so that’s how we’ll describe it if that’s ok with you.
All 17 players put in fine individual performances, but the most impressive facet of the result was the way they played as a collective unit. In attack, the pivots combined time and again to pose a constant threat to the Leeds side, while the defensive effort was the best we’d seen since, well, since we beat Leeds at the HJ.
The fact that Leeds have lost only twice this season – both times against Wire – highlights just what this team can do when it clicks. Again, hate to say ‘told you so’, but we predicted in pre-season that we’d lack the consistency to finish top of the league, but that we should be challenging for trophies come the back end of the season. On this evidence, there is absolutely no reason that we can’t mount a real challenge come the play offs.
From the minute Gene Ormsby touched down for the opening try to Dec Patton’s drop goal to wrap things up, Wire were always in control of the game.
So much so that those merry few who made the trip to Leeds and the thousands watching on Sky were treated to such magical moments as a pinpoint Ben Harrison grubber, a Micky Higham 40/20 from dummy half and, most magical of all, A TRY FROM ROY ASOTASI!!
Ormsby opened the scoring within 7 minutes after a little spell of pressure on the Leeds line. On the last tackle, Wire shaped up looking for all the world for the trade mark kick to the corner for Joel Monaghan, but Higham fooled everyone in the ground and went down the blindside to find Ben Currie, whose neat grubber was touched down by the Top Bun-sporting winger.
Currie was then outdone by fellow backrower Ben Harrison, who backed up a brilliant break from Myler-Skelton on the last tackle and put an inch perfect kick to the corner for Joel Monaghan to dive on and extend Warrington’s lead.
The joy on the western terrace was matched by a sense of disbelief at what we had just witnessed.
If that try was unbelievable, the next one was unbelievably easy. Gifted good field position by errors and penalties, Wire were piling pressure on the Leeds line again and seemed to shape for a backline spread, but again Higham fooled the defence and found Ashton Sims with a short flat ball from dummy half, allowing the big prop dive over untouched while the Leeds defenders stood flatfooted.
Higham booted a thunderous 40/20 from the very next set to punctuate a fine individual performance, but Leeds held firm in the face of the now constant Warrington pressure and we wouldn’t trouble the scoreboard again until the second half.
Just before half-time, Leeds pulled a try back when a sublime backline spread was finished off by Latchford Albion product Kalum Watkins. It was the Rhinos’ best bit of rugby all evening and they would’ve scored that try against anyone in the world such was the accuracy of the passing and the intensity of their runners.
The general consensus during the break was that, if anything, we could’ve done with scoring again when we were camped in Leeds’ half and the threat posed by the Loiners across the field left a few feeling uneasy. They would no doubt have their proverbial tails up now and the one thing Leeds always seem to have is the ability to run away with games in the second half.
We needn’t have worried in the end, because, like in the reverse fixture at the HJ, Wire’s defence was on fire, but this time it was matched by a slick, confident attack.
Daryl Clark, introduced off the bench, had easily his best game in a Primrose and Blue jersey so far. Our pack was on top of the Leeds’ forwards, so we were making good yards and getting quick play the balls, allowing the former Cas hooker to jump out of dummy half and trouble the Leeds defence.
On one such occasion, Clark broke from dummy half and release a great offload to the supporting Ratchford who in turn found Ben Currie who touched down under the sticks in front of a joyous away end.
It must be noted that it was Roy Asotasi who won the floor to get the quick play the ball to allow Clark the opportunity to dart from dummy half and it was the Kiwi who was next over the try line in one of the greatest moments in the history of Warrington RLFC.
Much maligned during his first season in the Super League, Asotasi has actually been solid this year but it hasn’t fully silenced the boo-boys or the ironic cheers at every hit up. It has, however, turned him into a bit of a cult hero and the split between those taking the piss out of him and those who genuinely want him to do well (mainly to silence some of the half-wits that follow us) is probably about even.
Whatever the individual’s reasons, when Big Roy was on hand to collect Gene Ormsby’s offload and dive over it sparked scenes in the away end reminiscent of the ones from 2006 in the same stand. It was a bit of a nothing play in honesty and credit must go to Ormsby for cutting back inside and making a half-break through sheer Kevin Penny-esque determination.
Roy Asotasi, he scores when he wants.
There was till half an hour of football left to be played the dust settled on the jubilation. The riots promised when Roy scores didn’t fully materialise, but we who were there will forever be able to say that we were in attendance when Roy Asotasi scored against Leeds.
Like those at Odsal for the cup final replay of 54, or those in Perpignan in 2008, we are now part of a very unique club. We should have annual reunions and t-shirts printed.
Anyway, as the clock ticked down, they had a spell of pressure but could only manage a consolation try from Mitch Achurch for their endeavours, but a Ratchford penalty and a Dec Patton drop goal put the game well beyond Leeds.