Hull KR 20 Warrington Wolves 22: Rovers go from sublime to ridiculous in frustrating defeat

As Hull KR and Warrington Wolves put on a show at Craven Park, it almost felt like summer had arrived.

The Robins played their part in a highly entertaining clash that defied the early-season conditions but veered from the sublime to the ridiculous too often to see off a resolute Warrington.

Rovers scored four scintillating tries, only to undo their good work with sloppy errors and careless plays at key times.

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For all the silky skills shown by half-backs Mikey Lewis and Tyrone May, there were moments KR would want back.

On the flip side, they will say you cannot have the eye-catching tries without a few mistakes.

The Robins overturned an 18-12 half-time deficit to lead with the final 10 minutes approaching but pushed their luck one too many times to give Matt Dufty the chance to win it for Warrington.

There were first KR tries for May and Oliver Gildart, while Ryan Hall edged closer to Danny McGuire's Super League record and Tom Opacic gave the hosts the scent of a thrilling victory.

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But Rovers were left to rue one that got away against the only side they failed to beat in 2023.

Matt Dufty celebrates scoring Warrington's winning try. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/ Dufty celebrates scoring Warrington's winning try. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/
Matt Dufty celebrates scoring Warrington's winning try. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/

In a repeat of last year's round four clash at Craven Park that was won by Warrington, Sam Burgess' side set the pace in an all-action contest.

An error from James Batchelor inside KR's 40 gave the visitors an early leg-up and they made the back-rower pay during a dominant period.

Impressive young half-back Leon Hayes served an early warning with a neat grubber kick that earned a repeat set but it was not heeded by Rovers.

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The returning George Williams opened the scoring in the seventh minute after taking a pass from Dufty and bursting through the KR defence with worrying ease – and worse was to come for the hosts.

Tom Opacic slides over to score Hull KR's fourth try. (Photo: Jonathan Gawthorpe)Tom Opacic slides over to score Hull KR's fourth try. (Photo: Jonathan Gawthorpe)
Tom Opacic slides over to score Hull KR's fourth try. (Photo: Jonathan Gawthorpe)

The Robins were let off the hook when Danny Walker failed to finish before the dead-ball line following an error by Hall but their luck quickly ran out.

Hayes sent another smart kick through and Matty Ashton was in the right place to take advantage of a spill by Peta Hiku to touch down.

Thirteen minutes in and the warning signs were there against a dominant pack led by smart half-backs.

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Yet barely 10 minutes later, Rovers had the lead as their own halves put their stamp on the game.

Oliver Gildart celebrates his try. (Photo: Jonathan Gawthorpe)Oliver Gildart celebrates his try. (Photo: Jonathan Gawthorpe)
Oliver Gildart celebrates his try. (Photo: Jonathan Gawthorpe)

May took the glory for KR's opener after racing through to claim Lewis' hanging kick above a rooted Dufty but the try owed to a strong carry from Dean Hadley.

The Robins had their tails up all of a sudden, inspired by the effervescent Lewis.

The England half-back got the Warrington defence scurrying with a couple of trademark bursts before orchestrating KR's second try, holding the ball long enough to give Gildart the space to get away a superb flick pass for Hall to finish in the corner.

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Jez Litten converted from the touchline to complete the turnaround in double-quick time, only for Rovers to relinquish their grip on the game in a sloppy finish to the half.

The turning point came when Batchelor lost the ball reaching for the line to bomb a certain try.

Opacic compounded the error with an incorrect play the ball in KR territory and was duly punished in the next set as Hayes and Lachlan Fitzgibbon combined to put Toby King over.

Rovers needed to get to half-time without incurring further damage but Dufty had other ideas, bursting through some tired tackles near halfway and keeping his composure to roll a kick through for Connor Wrench to score.

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But for some wayward goalkicking, Warrington would have held a commanding lead at half-time.

Instead, Rovers trailed by only six points and came out firing after the interval, only to bomb another try early in the half.

Lewis dazzled England team-mate Williams with a spellbinding dummy but his pass dropped behind Litten with only the full-back to beat.

The playmaker quickly put that behind him to help lay on KR's third try, sending out a looping pass to Hall who quickly passed back inside for Gildart to slide over.

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Batchelor was handed the responsibility of adding the extras with Litten off the field but sent his conversion attempt wide to leave Rovers two behind entering the final quarter.

The Robins did not have to wait long for their next try to continue the theme of the game.

May found Opacic with a sublime long pass and the centre finished to swing the match back in KR's favour.

But after Batchelor missed another touchline conversion, Rovers pressed the self-destruct button once again.

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Niall Evalds went close at one end before an ill-advised play between Gildart and Hall gave Warrington the field position to score the winning try through Dufty straight from a scrum.

There was still time for the Robins to rescue the game but they were unable to find one more killer play to the frustration of a home crowd that had seen two points slip away.

Hull KR: Hiku, Evalds, Opacic, Gildart, Hall, May, Lewis, Hadley, Litten, Whitbread, Tanginoa, Batchelor, Minchella. Substitutes: Sue, King, Parcell, Luckley.

Tries: May (17), Lewis (25), Gildart (57), Opacic (61)

Goals: Litten 2/2, Batchelor 0/2

Warrington Wolves: Dufty, Thewlis, Wrench, King, Ashton, Williams, Hayes, Harrison, Walker, Vaughan, Holroyd, Fitzgibbon, Currie. Substitutes: Philbin, Crowther, Musgrove, Powell.

Tries: Williams (7), Ashton (13), King (37), Wrench (40), Dufty (69)

Goals: Thewlis 1/3, Hayes 0/2

Referee: Aaron Moore.

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