2012 Challenge Cup final: WARRINGTON 35 LEEDS 18 at Wembley Stadium

By STEVE MASCORD

WARRINGTON coach Tony Smith said rugby league would never be able to perfectly police concussion after former NSW fullback Brett Hodgson ignored a ferocious head knock to secure the Lance Todd Trophy as Challenge Cup final man of the match.

In a turning point at Wembley Stadium in front of 79,180 fans, the former Wests Tigers premiership winner was flattened in a tackle by Leeds prop Kylie Leuluai three minutes into the  second half, with Warrington ahead by just two points.

The ball was jolted loose and another Australian, Brett Delaney, ran 10 metres to claim a try. But after the sickening impact – which occurred after Leuluai’s arm bounced off the ball – was replayed countless times on the big screen, the try was disallowed and Leeds given a scrum-feed.

That infuriated the camp of Leeds, who’ve lost five consecutive Challenge Cup finals, but in the NRL, there would have been increasing pressure for Hodgson to come off under new guidelines in response to American athletes suing governing bodies for long-term brain damage.

Instead, Hodgson, watched several of the replays himself and not only continued but set up the next two tries before scoring the clincher himself in a 35-18 triumph, the Wolves’ third in four visits to Wembley.

“I don’t think we’re ever going to …  if we go too far with it, we’re not going to have anybody on the rugby league field,” Smith told the Herald.

‘You also don’t want to endanger our people by any means.

“On the whole, I think we do it pretty well. We don’t have too many bad cases that are avoidable. Sometimes we have an over-reaction, be it the shoulder charge or over-protection.”

Hodgson agreed, saying: “There’s no doubt I didn’t want to come off. We’re a weird bunch, us league players out there.

“It’s hard to differentiate when you shouldn’t be allowed to continue. It will be difficult to police. “They asked me where we’re at, who we played last week, what’s the score, who scored last, whether you’ve got pins and needles …”

Former Manly prop Leuluai said refereeing errors could have cost the world champions the contest. said the Delaney try should not have been disallowed and also a knock-on by Lee Briers was missed. “Those two errors, I feel, from the referees were crucial,” said Leuluai.

Michael and Joel Monaghan are the first Australian brothers to win at Wembley in the same team.  Smith said Joel, in particular, had overcome great adversity in the wake of his infamous Mad Monday misdemeanour to become a leading player in the British game. He scored the first try from a Richie Myler kick in the sixth minute.

Another Warrington tryscorer, Trent Waterhouse, spoke to good friend Luke Lewis, who revealed a cancer battle , in the lead-up to the match.

“When you hear the word cancer, you get really worried ,” the former Penrith forward said. “He’s had  a tough year – he says he’s going to be OK.”

WARRINGTON 35 (J Monaghan T Waterhouse C Riley R Atkins T McCarthy B Hodgson tries Hodgson 5 goals L Briers field goal) bt LEEDS 18 (K Watkins 2, I Kirke tries; K Sinfield 3 goals) at Wembley Stadium. Referee: R Silverwood. Crowd: 79,180.

Filed for: SYDNEY MORNING HERALD