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Saturday 14th September 2013, 15:00 - Round:Play Offs
|Ben Westwood 4, Simon Grix, Lee Briers, Ryan Atkins,||T||Kallum Watkins, Kevin Sinfield, Zak Hardaker 2,|
Stefan Ratchford 3, Lee Briers 3,
Kevin Sinfield 2,
Attendance: 8,695 Official: J Child Venue: Halliwell Jones Stadium
England forward Ben Westwood grabbed four tries to help Warrington Wolves to a resounding victory over their grand final conquerors and take them to within 80 minutes of a return to Old Trafford.
The tough-tackling second-rower was at the heart of an impressive performance from the Wolves, who earned themselves a week off and the right to select their semi-final opponents under the ClubCall system.
Leeds Rhinos will still have a chance to keep alive their bid for a hat-trick of titles as they prepare for a home tie in next Friday's preliminary semi-final but must hope this seven-try defeat does not shake their confidence.
The Rhinos were back to full strength with the return from suspension of prop Ryan Bailey and were in the game until Westwood completed his second hat-trick of the season six minutes into the second half.
Westwood opened the scoring five minutes into the qualifying play-off after collecting Lee Briers' grubber kick and stretching out of full-back Zak Hardaker's tackle to plant the ball on the line for his first try.
The champions' response was led by livewire hooker Rob Burrow, who carved out two tries in seven minutes.
Centre Kallum Watkins finished off his lightning break and then took another offload from him to combine with winger Ben Jones-Bishop to get skipper Kevin Sinfield over.
Sinfield struck the upright with his second conversion attempt to leave his side 10-6 in front but it was a tenuous lead and there was little to choose between the two fiercely competitive teams.
Briers was given a warning for sparking a mini brawl by throwing a punch after taking exception to a tackle by Leeds second-rower Carl Ablett but stayed on the pitch and continued to orchestrate matters.
The Wolves were level on 26 minutes when replacement hooker Michael Monaghan put makeshift scrum-half Simon Grix through a gap and he easily rounded Hardaker.
Stefan Ratchford's second goal nudged his side back in front and they extended their lead in fortuitous circumstances five minutes before the break.
Westwood stormed onto Briers' pass and looked a certain scorer until Hardaker got back to make the tackle on the line.
Unclear whether the England forward managed to get the ball down, video referee Phil Bentham gave him the benefit of the doubt and Briers added the conversion to open up an eight-point lead.
Westwood almost completed his hat-trick two minutes into the second half when he lost the ball in Danny McGuire's tackle short of the line but there was no stopping the second-rower four minutes later when he finished off a break by Monaghan.
It was enough to clinch Westwood the man-of-the-match award, although he was pushed closely by Briers, whose 40-20 kick ensured the momentum stayed with his side.
And it was Briers who sealed the win with Warrington's fifth try after Monaghan had worked the ball back from the Leeds line.
Hardaker went over for two tries as the Rhinos attempted to play catch-up but, in between, Westwood touched down Briers' kick to score his fourth try and centre Ryan Atkins scored a seventh try six minutes from the end after pouncing on a stray pass from Sinfield.