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FULL TIME: Warrington Wolves 41 St Helens 24
WARRINGTON Wolves certainly gave their vocal fans a Magic Weekend with a spellbinding performance to beat St Helens on Sunday in Super League Round 13.
Wolves added their second Magic Weekend victory in successive seasons over their rivals to make it three from three, including a win over Widnes Vikings, at the Etihad Stadium.
Wolves' fans were already in full voice by the time Gene Ormsby opened the scoring inside five minutes.
Rhys Evans then touched down either side of a Chris Hill score and Alex Walmsley narrowed the deficit late in the half.
Atkins furthered Wolves’ advantage immediately after the interval and within 10 minutes of the half restarting they held a 30-point lead following Joel Monaghan and Matty Russell efforts.
Saints fought hard to muster a comeback and quick-fire tries from Jordan Turner, Lance Hohaia and Matt Dawson made it look possible.
Stefan Ratchford’s drop goal relieved some of the pressure and moments later Monaghan intercepted to add his second.
The returning Ben Westwood was immediately involved for Wolves when he forced St Helens full back Jonny Lomax back over his own try line.
From the resulting kick Wolves worked the ball left with Ratchford feeding Atkins wide out, but the former Wakefield man was forced out by the Saints defence.
Wolves continued to build pressure in Saints’ half and saw Chris Bridge held up narrowly short of the line after wriggling free of two would-be tacklers four minutes in.
Michael Monaghan picked up from dummy half and attempted a grubber, only to see the ball rebound back into his arms.
Joel Monaghan collected this time and span a pass out wide to the onrushing Ormsby, who dived into the corner and touched down superbly at full stretch. Chris Bridge was unable to add the extras.
With eight minutes played Wolves doubled their advantage, Westwood at the heart of the attack driving Tony Smith’s side forward until he was felled 10 metres out.
The ball was moved through hands from the set until Ratchford fed Trent Waterhouse at close range and the Australian committed the Saints defence before popping it up for Evans to scoot over in the left corner. Bridge failed to convert from a difficult angle.
With 18 minutes played Bridge performed a spectacular piece of juggling to intercept and bring an end to Saints’ first foray into the Wolves half.
Wolves were able to pin Saints back in their half again with a Bridge penalty and an almost identical move to Evans’ first try ended with Ratchford’s pass sailing out of the Welsh winger’s reach.
However, with 19 minutes of the half remaining Bridge delivered a clever backwards offload to Joel Monaghan and the centre, who broke hit a century of tries for the club last week, waltzed his way towards the line.
Monaghan was stopped 20 metres out but Westwood was on hand to keep the move alive and fed Hill for the powerful prop to crash over for his first try of the campaign. Bridge’s converted.
Saints’ Mose Masoe and James Roby were penalised when the former went over the top in a tackle on Michael Monaghan and again Wolves were given the opportunity to put the ball in St Helens territory.
The ball was worked to Bridge, whose grubber kick rebounded and bounced awkwardly before finding its way to Ratchford and the scrum half passed to Evans in acres of space on the left for his second try of the afternoon.
Referee Phil Bentham went to the video to check Bridge had not touched it following the rebound, which would have put Ratchford offside, but the mass of Wolves fans in the corner Evans had gone over in were confident the move was fine and, on second glance, so was Bentham.
Bridge, who boasted an impressive conversion rate before today’s meeting, pulled his kick wide.
Saints put on their first meaningful attack on the half hour mark, which ended with Dawson diving over in the corner, but Bentham had spotted a knock on in the build up.
Two minutes later and Turner intercepted close to his own line and darted 50 metres into the Wolves half, but the centre was struggling for support and his loose pass hit the deck with Atkins the first to pounce.
Despite Wolves’ pressure, Saints again proved dangerous on the break away with Luke Walsh the man to sprint clear this time before delivering a high kick that Ormsby did well to reach first.
The winger was penalised for holding on as his Warrington teammates attempted to regroup and found himself in the sin bin.
Wolves looked like they had weathered the storm when Dawson went over only to again be brought back by Bentham, but eventually the numerical advantage told as Walsh fed Walmsley from close range and then converted from in front of the posts.
Saints’ second half started as badly as their first when from kick off Lomax failed to deal with the deep punt, misjudging the bounce and tipping it over his own dead ball line.
And within four minutes of the restart Wolves had increased their advantage, Atkins released a neat pass to Evans and the winger made good ground before committing Lomax and handing back to Atkins for the centre to go between the posts. Bridge converted.
Within three minutes Wolves were over again, the move looked like it had come to an end when full back Russell collided with teammate Bridge in the tackle, but Micky Higham collected quickly from dummy half.
Ratchford and Waterhouse exchanged passes with the former Salford man turning back on himself to find Joel Monaghan and he was able to reach out with try 102 in primrose and blue, Bridge added the extras.
Things got even better for Wolves when they added their third try in nine minutes to go 30 points clear.
Ratchford side-stepped a tackle inside Wolves’ own 20 before passing to Russell and the 20-year-old ate up the ground ahead of him to go the distance and add his fourth try for the club to leave Bridge a simple conversion.
Saints were able to hit back on 52 minutes, their first meaningful attack of the half found Turner wide on the right and the centre was able to take Atkins over the line to ground, Walsh goaled from a tight angle.
And Saints continued to close the gap on the hour mark, Walsh fed Paul Wellens and the substitute delivered a long pass to Hohaia to scoot in for his fourth of the campaign. Walsh maintained his faultless kicking display from another tight angle.
Wolves were having to soak up sustained pressure from Saints and Roby was held up over the line by joint-skipper Westwood.
But Nathan Brown’s men reduced the deficit further with 15 minutes remaining when the ball was moved through hands for Dawson to sail in wide out and Walsh kicked the extras.
Ratchford relieved some of the pressure with a well-taken drop goal on 69 minutes to leave Saints needing to score three times for the win.
Wolves then put any hopes of a Saints’ comeback out of reach when Joel Monaghan intercepted Jon Wilkin’s pass inside his own half but showed he still had the legs sprint clear into the corner for his 11th Super League try of the season with nine minutes remaining.
Bridge added his third conversion of the afternoon.
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