WHEN Wolves needed a solution, Chris Bridge responded – and in some style!
With four half-back options sidelined with injury, Bridge put his hand up to say he wanted the job against Doncaster in Sunday’s Challenge Cup fifth round tie and he rolled back the years with a majestic 36 points haul.
The third highest total in a Wolves match, only bettered by Lee Briers on two occasions, takes some doing no matter the level of opposition and especially in a position in which the former England centre had not started a game since the home Challenge Cup quarter-final loss to Wigan in 2011.
After shrugging off some injury hit seasons, the 29-year-old has shown decent form this year. And he needed too in a side showing 11 changes to the one hammered at Castleford on Easter Monday.
The prevalent aggressive physicality of his game was obvious in the third of his four tries, wriggling free from attempted tackles to put his side on the way to 50 points by three-quarter time.
But it was his support play for two tries, his creativity in other scores and aspects of his kicking game – including 10 successful conversions from 12 attempts – that caught the eye, along with the team’s determined defence to shut out an albeit Championship outfit featuring some young full-time talent on hire from Hull FC.
And it was a delight to see Kevin Penny on fire with his finishing skills too on a day he has had to be patient for.
After some exceptional scoring exploits in 2007 and 2008, he was released by Tony Smith after concerns of his defence and reading of play.
But five years after his last appearance at The Halliwell Jones Stadium, Penny’s lightning pace and acrobatics at the try line were lifting supporters out of their seats again.
Perhaps it was the Doncaster try he prevented, quickly shutting down an attacker when a three-on-one situation was about to present itself, that may have impressed Wolves’ coaching staff even more.
Wolves will clearly face sterner tests. Hopefully this win can provide a tonic for the weeks ahead, as a similar success over Keighley did in 2012 before Wolves went on to lift the Challenge Cup.
Wolves’ worst attendance for a match at The Halliwell Jones Stadium, beating the 3,012 turnout for London Skolars’ Challenge Cup visit on April 2, 2006
Wolves’ first blank sheet since 47-0 play-offs win against Huddersfield on September 16, 2011
Chris Bridge’s 36 points haul only bettered in Warrington colours by Lee Briers against York Wasps in 2000 (40pts) and Swinton Lions in 2011 (44pts)
Second time Bridge has kicked 10 goals in a game for Wolves, also managing the feat against Wakefield on August 14, 2011
Second time Bridge has scored four tries in a match for Wolves, the first occasion being away to Harlequins on July 16, 2011
He went one better with five tries in a Challenge Cup tie at Huddersfield Giants on May 8, 2010
First senior Wolves starts for Anthony England and Ben Evans
Matty Russell’s first Wolves try at The Halliwell Jones Stadium
Brad Dwyer’s first try of the season for Wolves
Kevin Penny’s first tries of the campaign for Wolves on what was his first home appearance since re-signing for the club
His last game at The Halliwell Jones Stadium for Wolves was against Harlequins, the final match of the 2009 season
Challenge Cup fifth round Sunday, April 27, 2014
Warrington Wolves...68 Doncaster...0
Wolves: Matty Russell; Kevin Penny, Joel Monaghan, Ryan Atkins, Rhys Evans,; Chris Bridge, Gareth O’Brien; Chris Hill, Micky Higham, Anthony England, Ben Currie, James Laithwaite, Ben Evans. Subs: Roy Asotasi, Trent Waterhouse, Glenn Riley, Brad Dwyer.
Doncaster: Lee Waterman; Nev Morrison, Shaun Leaf, Liam Welham, Dave Scott; Rich Wilkinson, Matty Wildie; Russ Spiers, Kyle Kesik, Chris Green, Alex Starling, Liam Kent, Craig Robinson. Subs: Grant Edwards, Scott Spaven, Matt Carbutt, Ryan Wilson.
Scoring: Penny try, 9mins, Bridge goal, 6-0; Russell try, 14mins, Bridge goal, 12-0; Atkins try, 17mins, Bridge goal, 18-0; Bridge try, 35mins, Bridge goal, 24-0; Bridge try, 38mins, Bridge goal, 30-0; Dwyer try, 43mins, Bridge goal, 36-0; Monaghan try, 54mins, 40-0; Bridge try, 58mins, Bridge goal, 46-0; Penny try, 62mins, 50-0; Penny try, 67mins, Bridge goal, 56-0; Bridge try, 73mins, Bridge goal, 62-0; Rhys Evans try, 79mins, Bridge goal, 68-0.
Referee: Matt Thomason
Penalties: Wolves 7 Doncaster 4
Top Man: Chris Bridge