Warrington Wolves 40 Leeds Rhinos 20: Play-off blow for McDermott’s side

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MICHAEL Monaghan came off the bench to rip Leeds Rhinos apart and ensure the defending champions must take the circuitous route if they are to return to Old Trafford.

England second-row Ben Westwood scored four tries for Warrington Wolves in this afternoon’s qualifying play-off but it was the introduction of Australian hooker Monaghan that proved the catalyst.

With his first touch in the rematch of last year’s Grand Final he found Simon Grix with a great cut-out pass in the 26th minite, the scrum-half then dummying his way over.

Next, Monaghan put Westwood through a gap for his second before breaking away early in the second period to deliver the forward’s unlikely hat-trick.

Even when the 33-year-old produced a sloppy pass it resulted in Lee Briers picking up the pieces and scoring as Leeds were outgunned in the second period.

However, Brian McDermott’s side - who will get a second chance to progress when they host either Hull FC or St Helens next Friday - will point to a couple of controversial decisions.

Briers was fortunate to stay on after unfathomably punching Carl Ablett in the 22nd minute when the visitors were 10-6 ahead..

The veteran Warrington stand-off - who went on to deliver one of his classic conntrolling performances - took offence to something after the England international had dragged him to the ground by his shirt collar.

However, referee James Child did not even brandish a yellow card.

Westwood’s second also came via a dubious ‘benefit of the doubt’ decision after Leeds full-back Zak Hardaker - who scored twice in the second period - appeared to have held his England colleague up over the line.

Rob Burrow was brilliant early on playing a big role in Leeds’ two first half tries which came via Kallum Watkins and Kevin Sinfield.

Sinfield improved only one, though, to leave the game finely balanced 18-10 at half-time.

But Warrington - who now have a week off and have ClubCall to decide who they play in the last four - dominated the second half, Ryan Atkins rounding things off with their seventh try.

Warrington: Ratchford; Riley, Bridge, Atkins, J Monaghan; Briers, Grix; Hill, Higham, Wood, Waterhouse, Westwood, Harrison. Substitutes: Morely, M Monaghan, Carvell, Cooper.

Leeds: Hardaker; Jones-Bishop, Watkins, Moon, Hall; McGuire, Sinfield; Leuluai, Burrow, Peacock, Jones-Buchanan, Ablett, Bailey. Substitutes: Delaney, Singleton, Kirke, Sutcliffe.

Referee: James Child (Dewsbury)