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Warrington staves off Toronto rally to hand the Wolfpack a fourth straight loss

WARRINGTON, England — The Warrington Wolves needed two late penalties and a try Friday to stave off the Toronto Wolfpack for a hard-earned 32-22 win in Super League play.

WARRINGTON, England — The Warrington Wolves needed two late penalties and a try Friday to stave off the Toronto Wolfpack for a hard-earned 32-22 win in Super League play. 

Toronto (0-4-0) deserved a better fate after rallying from a 16-0 deficit after 30 minutes on a cold day at Halliwell Jones Stadium. But after clawing its way back to 22-22, the transatlantic rugby league team conceded two penalties that Stefan Ratchford put through in the 64th and 70th minutes for a 26-22 lead.

Ben Murdoch-Masila's converted try in the 79th minute padded the lead to 32-22.

Toronto had lost its first three games in the English top tier despite playing some attractive free-flowing rugby. The improvements continued Friday before an announced crowd of 11,182, albeit after a slow start.

The Wolfpack trailed 22-6 late in the first half before Andy Ackers crossed the line one minute before the break to reduce the deficit to 22-12. Second-half tries by Matty Russell and Gareth O'Brien pulled Toronto even at 22-22 as the Wolves wobbled.

Jon Wilkin also scored a try for Toronto. Blake Wallace kicked three conversions.

Wilkin was a surprise inclusion in the side given Toronto had said Thursday he would be out for a month due to minor knee surgery. The veteran forward missed last week's game in Wigan after pulling up short in the warmup.

Josh Charnley, Gareth Widdop, Tom Lineham and Matty Ashton scored tries for Warrington (2-2-0). Ratchford added four conversions in reaching the 1,000-point mark in Super League.

Lineham's try was the 150th of his career. 

Friday's game was the first for the Wolfpack without director of rugby Brian Noble, who unexpectedly stepped down Thursday.

Warrington built an early lead with tries in the seventh, 10th and 23rd minutes. The Wolves led 16-0 before Wilkin's 33rd-minute converted try cut the deficit to 16-6.

The teams exchanged converted tries to give Warrington a 10-point lead at the half.

The early schedule has not been kind to Toronto with games against four of the top five teams in last year's standings — No. 2 Wigan, No. 3 Salford, No. 4 Warrington and No. 5 Castleford.

The Wolfpack face St. Helens, which topped the table in 2019, next on Feb. 29.

Toronto was without the injured Gadwin Springer (head), Darcy Lussick (hernia), Joe Mellor (hand) and James Cunningham (hamstring). New Zealand international Chase Stanley remains out due to visa issues.

Marquee signing Sonny Bill Williams was back in action from New Zealand after missing last week's loss at Wigan to be at the birth of his fourth child (son Essa). Greg Worthington, recalled from loan at Featherstone, and French international Tony Gigot, newly arrived on a four-week trial, started on the bench.

Wolfpack forward Adam Sidlow came off the bench to make his 300th career appearance Friday, with 77 of those in Toronto colours. The big man has also played for Bradford, Salford, Workington Town and Widnes. 

Toronto has bad memories of Halliwell Jones Stadium, thrashed 66-10 there in May 2018 in a sixth-round Challenge Cup clash.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 21, 2020.

The Canadian Press