Super League play-offs: Warrington ease past Leeds
Last Updated: 14/09/13 7:11pm
Ben Westwood (C): Scored four tries in comfortable victory over Leeds
Ben Westwood ran in four tries as Warrington thrashed Leeds 40-20 to move within 80 minutes of reaching the Super League Grand Final.
The second-rower was at the heart of an impressive performance from the Wolves, who earned themselves a week off and the right to select their semi-final opponents under the ClubCall system.
Leeds will still have a chance to keep alive their bid for a third straight title as they prepare for a home tie in next Friday's preliminary semi-final, but the Rhinos looked firmly second best for the majority of this contest at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.
Westwood opened the scoring five minutes in after collecting Lee Briers' grubber kick and stretching out of full-back Zak Hardaker's tackle to plant the ball on the try-line.
The champions' response was led by livewire hooker Rob Burrow, who carved out two tries in seven minutes.
Centre Kallum Watkins finished off his lightning break and then took another offload from the diminutive half-back to get skipper Kevin Sinfield over after combining with Ben Jones-Bishop.
Sinfield struck the upright with his second conversion attempt to leave his side 10-6 in front, but it was a tenuous lead and there was little to choose between the two fiercely competitive teams.
Controversy followed as Warrington star Lee Briers was given only a warning despite spearing to land a punch on the side of Carl Ablett's head, which sparked a mini-brawl.
The Wolves were level on 26 minutes when replacement hooker Michael Monaghan put makeshift scrum-half Simon Grix through a gap and he easily rounded Hardaker to score.
Stefan Ratchford's second goal nudged his side back in front and they extended their lead in five minutes before the break when video referee Phil Bentham gave Westwood the benefit of the doubt as he attempted to get the ball down for another try.
Briers added the conversion to make it 18-10 at the break and Westwood completed his hat-trick at the start of the second half as he finished off a break by Michael Monaghan.
It was enough to give Westwood the man-of-the-match award but he was pushed closely by the influential Briers, whose 40-20 kick ensured the momentum stayed with his side.
And it was Briers, lucky to still be on the pitch after his earlier indiscretion, who sealed the win with Warrington's fifth try after Michael Monaghan had worked the ball back from the Leeds line.
Hardaker went over for two tries as the Rhinos attempted to play catch-up, but in between Westwood touched down Briers' kick to score for a fourth time and centre Ryan Atkins scored a seventh try six minutes from the end.