sport

Warriors from Acton snuff out Dragon fire as rugby league gets a grip

Wests too good for Kent side, writes David Lawrenson

Grapple: Warriors second row Richard Thompson attempts to break through the Medway defence with man of the match Jonny Bell coming up in support.

London Premier League

Medway Dragons 26-32 Wests Warriors

The rugby union season is over – but the other oval ball code is off to a flying start.

Rugby league side Wests Warriors notched up a second win in Kent on Saturday to nurture hopes they can repeat the feat of National One winners Ealing Trailfinders in the 15-man game.

Hooker Jonny Bell turned in a match-winning performance with a 16-point haul against a strong Medway side nurtured by former London Broncos head coach Rob Powell.

Warriors got off to the best possible start when half-back Val Katipa crashed over from short range after just two minutes. Twenty-two year old Katipa joined the club late last year, but is already becoming a key figure alongside Bell and former St Helens player Nathan Ashe.

However, the home side hit back with three tries, one of which was converted, to establish a 14-4 lead. Wests worked hard to get back into the game and were rewarded just before half time when full-back Brock Monaghan-Neutze finished off a neat back line move to score under the posts. Bell converted to make it 14-10 at the break.

Early in the second half, Dragons increased their lead capitalising from a mistake by the visitors near their own line. From the resulting scrum moved the ball wide enabling Aloisio McKenzie to score in the corner.

Warriors responded when a fine break by Bell was finished off by Katipa to reduce the arrears to four points. The home side once again pulled away, good work by Rich Pearce and Henry Butler eventually enabling Adam Shears to touchdown by the posts to make it 22-14.

But the visitors refused to roll over and it took some terrific defensive work to keep them at bay. However, going into the final quarter the Dragons finally cracked, Rob Stubbs taking a short ball and forcing his way over the line with Bell adding the extras to bring the Warriors within two points.

Once again the home side responded with Joe Cooke managing to squeeze over for try but with four minutes remaining a storming run from Barry Dawson Williams enabled Bell to thread his way through the opposition defence. His try and conversion drew the Warriors level to set up a tense finale.

It was Bell again who broke the deadlock, making a clean break from dummy half to touchdown. As his conversion sailed over, the final hooter sounded to bring a thrilling game to its conclusion.

The Warriors, who are two points behind league leaders Eastern Rhinos, have a free weekend this week but are back in action on May 16 when they take on the Rhinos at Twyford Avenue, Acton.

Hammersmith Hills Hoists, now back in the Premier league, suffered a 32-10 defeat at Eastern Rhinos.

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