Warrington Wolves 72 Bradford Bulls 0
By ADAM LEAH
Winger Georgia Sutherland’s seven tries helped Warrington book their Group 2 Grand Final place by thrashing Bradford.
Four first-half scores from Sutherland along with tries by Lucy Eastwood, Emily Baggaley and Michelle Davis helped give the Wolves a commanding 40-0 advantage at the break.
Sutherland added a further three in the second-half with other tries from Emily Downs, Danielle Bound and Jessica Courtman sealing an emphatic win.
The Wire will face Featherstone at the Totally Wicked Stadium on Sunday in a bid to be promoted to Group 1.
The home side headed into the play-offs as hot favourites to be promoted to the top tier following twelve wins from twelve in 2022 and having amassed 744 points in the process.
Lee Westwood’s side faced the fourth-placed Bulls, who had failed to register a point in the two previous meetings between the teams this season.
Following a minute’s silence in memory of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and a rendition of ‘God Save the King’, Warrington came out of the traps firing and were ahead inside two minutes as Sutherland finished off a well-worked move down the left.
Davis added the first of ten goals from 13 attempts.
Five minutes later, Warrington doubled their early advantage as Eastwood capitalised on a Bradford knock-on from a scrum to scoop up the ball and race 30 metres to score.
Baggaley soon added the home side’s third, crashing over down the right flank, and a superb looping pass to the left from Bound on 22 minutes sent Sutherland over for her second.
Moments later skipper Davis exploited a gap in the Bradford line down the left side to race over from 40 metres out.
From the restart, Sutherland completed her hat-trick, racing away down her wing, and it was a similar move on the stroke of half-time which brought her fourth.
Warrington, 40-0 up at the break, maintained their control of the contest at the start of the second half and added an eighth try on 45 minutes when Downs crashed over from short range.
A sensational solo try followed on 57 minutes as Bound scooped the ball from dummy-half 40 metres out to then weave around the defenders to score.
Sutherland added her fifth of the afternoon, racing past Bailey Alexander to score in the left corner. The winger wasn’t done there either, crossing for a sixth try out wide with ten minutes left.
On 75 minutes, Eastwood’s sensational break and offload sent Courtman over.
There was just enough time remaining for Sutherland to add a seventh, brushing off the Bradford defenders with a rampaging run. The feat takes her to a staggering 42 tries for the campaign – an average of more than three a game.
Impressive Warrington were also presented with the League Leaders’ Shield at full-time in front of a packed-out crowd at Victoria Park.
Barrow Raiders 10 Featherstone Rovers 12
By PETER WILSON
FEATHERSTONE held off a second-half challenge for a place in the Super League Group 2 play-off final.
It was a deserved victory built on the back of three first-half tries scored when they were in control and limiting Barrow to only the occasional fruitless attack.
Rovers took a seventh-minute lead when centre Fran Copley rounded off a smart move for a try wide out, and with stand-off Dani Waters calling the shots behind a stronger pack than that of the hosts, the visitors were the more adventurous in attack.
Their bigger forwards ran with more attacking force than the Raiders, who were rocked in the 29th minute, when winger Ellie Lamb squeezed over for Featherstone’s second try.
Two minutes before the break, they were in for their third, and once again it was Copley who added the finishing touch to a routine handling move which caught Barrow on the back foot.
The twelve-point lead turned out to be just enough to see Featherstone into the final, but not before Barrow improved to show for the third time this season that there isn’t too much between these sides.
A leg injury forced Waters out of the action and Barrow upped their act to stage a fightback which meant Featherstone had to hold on.
They narrowed the gap in the 50th minute when a speculative kick through from scrum-half Jodie Litherland led to a scramble behind the goal before secondrow Claire Hutchinson emerged from under a pile of bodies to get her name on the scoresheet. Litherland converted.
The try rattled the visitors and Barrow looked as though they had taken in every word of a strong half-time team talk.
The game was an hour old when they struck again, as winger Charlotte Todhunter cracked the Featherstone defence to set up a nail-biting final quarter.
If Featherstone were worried, they didn’t show it, tackling as strongly as ever while remaining a threat when on the move.
In the end, that first-half try treble as enough.
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