King inspires Warrington to victory - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

King inspires Warrington to victory

09/08/2009 05:08:26 AM Comments (0)

Former NSW and Melbourne winger Matt King has inspired Warrington to a shock 39-26 victory over Wigan in Saturday's English rugby league's Challenge Cup semi-final.

King scored the first semi-final hat-trick since Wigan winger Brett Dallas got three in 2004 as the Wolves surged into a 32-8 lead after 49 minutes.

Wigan responded with three second-half tries that cut the deficit to just six points, but Warrington stand-off Lee Briers came up with another precious one-pointer before winger Chris Hicks got the clinching try five minutes from full time.

Briers' heroics earned him the man-of-the-match award and helped Warrington back to Wembley for the first time in 19 years.

Warrington were also indebted to Briers' halfback partner Michael Monaghan, whose first-half mastery helped spark a points spree of three tries in a devastating seven-minute spell.

The biggest beneficiary of the former Manly star's trickery was King with his first hat-trick since moving to Warrington from the Storm in 2008.

It represented a remarkable change of fortunes for the former Test star, whose form was so poor at the start of the season that he was barracked by his own fans and forced to issue a public apology for responding with a one-fingered gesture.

That incident took place during a 60-8 hammering at Harlequins in March, but since then the Wolves' fortunes have turned around dramatically under England coach Tony Smith.

Yet it had all started so promisingly for Wigan with the returning Phil Bailey giving them the lead with a seventh minute try while two goals from Pat Richards took him past 1,000 points for the club and gave them an 8-0 lead.

But the Warriors suffered a blow when Bailey, back from a two-match lay-off with a leg injury, was forced off with an Achilles problem with ended his action for the day.

With Monaghan pulling the strings, Smith's men seized control with that three-try burst which exposed Wigan's defensive deficiencies.

It got even better for the Warrington faithful when King completed his hat-trick nine minutes into the second half, leaping into the air unopposed to touch down Briers' pinpoint kick to extend his side's lead to 32-8.

Wigan tries from Andy Coley and Thomas Leuluai set up a dramatic finish, but Briers and Hicks saw Warrington home.

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