SPIRIT OF 55: At least as many questions as answers despite big win

Albert Naughton, the last Warrington captain to lift the championhip trophy

Albert Naughton, the last Warrington captain to lift the championhip trophy

First published in Sport
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Warrington Guardian: Photograph of the Author by , Sports blogger

SUNDAY’S clash was like seeing a heavyweight boxer who has lost a few bouts recently, take on a middleweight to gain some confidence.

The changes were as much positional as they were in personnel.

Chris Bridge obviously revelled in being given a half-back role, scoring four of the tries, while Joel Monaghan got a rare run out in the centre and Ben Currie looks comfortable in the second row, with his pace and handling ability making him a threat out wide and he is more than durable enough to play the full 80 minutes. Wire were always going to be a nightmare for Doncaster to play against, especially when it became clear from the start that the defence was at close to full intensity.

The defence was impressive throughout in terms of the line speed, aggression and on the rare occasions it was needed the desperation to not allow Doncaster to cross their line.

Of course in scoring 68 points there were plus points to the attack, but even in such a high scoring win there were at least as many questions as answers.

Even against a lower league defence Wire still lacked confidence and cohesion when it came to finding ways to score when in possession close to their opponents’ line.

The main reason Wire were so difficult for Doncaster to defend against was they had so many dangerous runners, all more than capable of evading or breaking a tackle. Most of the tries came about because of the ball carrier being able to beat the defensive line by themselves, rather than a pass putting someone through a gap or an overlap being created.

Giving ball carriers enough time and space to create their own gaps is a legitimate attacking policy, but for it to be really dangerous against the top teams, then the support play needs to be ever present and in high numbers. Ideally Wire will be able to find at least one or two players comfortable and competent in the ball-playing role which would greatly increase their scoring options.

Hard to pick out a favourite try in a match of so many from long distance, but my personal favourite was definitely Kevin Penny’s third and final try. It came from Currie’s mental alertness to take a quick 20m tap, Penny’s eagerness to support and Currie’s well timed pass allowing him to race clear.

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