Wolves book Wembley date
Warrington are back at Wembley after overcoming a stern test from out-of-form Huddersfield to triumph 33-6 in Sunday's Carnegie Challenge Cup semi-final at the City of Salford Stadium.
The Giants, in freefall in Super League with seven defeats out of eight, had threatened to spring a second shock of the weekend when they led 6-0 thanks to Scott Moore's early try. But the Wolves scored 33 unanswered points to set up a meeting with surprise finalists Leeds in the August 25 decider, a repeat of the 2010 final which Tony Smith's men won 30-6.
Full-back Brett Hodgson, who captained Huddersfield in their 2009 Wembley defeat by the Wolves, was immaculate in defence and contributed 17 points while stand-off Lee Briers tormented the Giants with an aerial bombardment which helped produce two of their five tries.
Huddersfield coach Nathan Brown responded to his side's 52-6 humiliation at Castleford by bringing in five new faces. Danny Brough soon created a glorious attacking position with a 40-20 kick and supplied the pass which got second rower David Fa'alogo romping through a hole in the Warrington defence, with hooker Moore in support to touch down.
Brough added the goal to put his side into a 6-0 lead but Warrington seized on a series of defensive blunders by the Yorkshiremen to run in 18 points without reply by half-time. Prop Keith Mason gifted the Wolves perfect field position with a knock-on inside his own 20-metre area and his opposite number Garreth Carvell punished him with a controversial score.
The England front rower took Briers' reverse pass to charge into a gap and, although he was brought down short of the line, he twisted out of Scott Grix's tackle to plant the ball over the line amid suspicions of a double movement, with video referee Ian Smith giving him the benefit of the doubt.
England centre Ryan Atkins scored straight from a scrum after Grix had fumbled one kick from the Welsh stand-off and winger Joel Monaghan struck three minutes later after the Huddersfield full-back was again found wanting.
Hodgson, the man of the match, converted all three tries to put Warrington into a 12-point lead. Huddersfield centre Lee Gilmour twice came up with breaks that led to nothing while replacement hooker Luke Robinson and Leroy Cudjoe both got over the line but were unable to ground the ball and that signalled the end of their Wembley dream.
On 56 minutes Hodgson was not to be denied three minutes later when put through a gap by Briers for the clinching score. But Huddersfield never gave up, with prop Eorl Crabtree illustrating their never-say-die attitude when he got back to pull off a trysaving tackle on centre Chris Bridge.
But the Wolves never looked like relaxing their grip and Hodgson extended their lead with a drop goal and penalty before Ratchford went over for a fifth try four minutes from the end, with Hodgson taking his goal tally to six from as many attempts.