WOLVES fans could be forgiven for witnessing Magic Weekend déjà vu, albeit a repeat they enjoyed far more than their Saints counterparts.
But it was perhaps no surprise the return of Ben Westwood coincided with Wolves’ most gutsy and determined performance of the season so far.
His experience along with fellow skipper Michael Monaghan lifted Tony Smith’s charges, as if they needed it with the Wolves fans in full voice.
For Saints it posted an all too familiar picture, their mistakes gifting Wolves territory and possession in almost a re-run of last year’s clash.
Wolves fully deserved to be 18-0 to the good when Rhys Evans dived over for his second try with a back-drop of primrose and blue bouncing to the tune of ‘Michael and Joel Monaghan’.
Chris Hill had earlier epitomised Wolves’ spirited display when he collected from Westwood to power through, all this after Gene Ormsby had given Warrington a perfect start.
Smith confirmed Richie Myler is eager to return but Wolves’ sixth half-back partnership of the season brought the best out of Stefan Ratchford, continuing a confident return from injury.
Ratchford was alongside Chris Bridge, unable to match the conversion rate he has set this season with four from eight, albeit many from an awkward angle.
Saints’ rare forays into Wolves territory ended with a disallowed try for Matt Dawson and with Ormsby, taking one for the team, sent to the sin-bin.
Their numerical advantage told with Alex Walmsley crossing, but 12-man Wolves hit back immediately after the break through Ryan Atkins, and following Ormsby’s return, Joel Monaghan and Matty Russell.
It was with 13 that Smith’s team were called into question, the retaliation leaving Wolves’ right side exposed as quickfire replies from Jordan Turner, Lance Hohaia and Matt Dawson prompted whispers of a comeback.
Not among the Wolves faithful, mind, as they had long made the Etihad their own and every tackle from their team’s superb scrambling defence was met with huge cheers.
Ratchford, who earlier made the space for Russell to sprint 80 metres to the line, had the composure to drop a goal that left Saints requiring three scores.
Joel Monaghan would have the last say, in an attempt to out-do Russell he had the legs after intercepting in his own half for number 103 in Wolves colours.
Wolves have won all three Magic Weekend fixtures played at the Etihad Stadium
Ryan Atkins’ try was the 150th of his career, made up of 95 for Warrington, 49 for Wakefield and six for England. He has never failed to score at the Magic Weekend for Wolves
Chris Hill’s first try of the season.
Only Leeds Rhinos’ Ryan Hall has scored more Magic Weekend tries than Wolves’ Joel Monaghan, nine versus eight
Ben Westwood returned after missing six games with a calf tear
Super League Round 13, Sunday May 18, 2014
Warrington Wolves...41 St Helens...24
Wolves: Matty Russell; Gene Ormsby, Joel Monaghan, Ryan Atkins, Rhys Evans; Chris Bridge, Stefan Ratchford; Chris Hill, Michael Monaghan, Anthony England, Ben Westwood, Trent Waterhouse, Ben Harrison. Subs: Micky Higham, Roy Asotasi, James Laithwaite, Ben Evans.
Saints: Jonny Lomax; Tommy Makinson, Jordan Turner, Josh Jones, Matt Dawson; Lance Hohaia, Luke Walsh; Alex Walmsley, James Roby, Anthony Walker, Jon Wilkin, Joe Greenwood, Louis McCarthy-Scarsbrook. Subs: Luke Thompson, Mose Masoe, Sia Soliola, Paul Wellens.
Scoring: Ormsby try, 7mins, 4-0; Rhys Evans try, 9mins, 8-0; Hill try, 21mins, Bridge goal, 14-0; Rhys Evans try, 24mins, 18-0; Walmsley try, 38mins, Walsh goal, 18-6; Atkins try, 43mins, Bridge goal, 24-6; Joel Monaghan try, 46mins, Bridge goal, 30-6; Russell try, 49mins, Bridge goal, 36-6; Turner try, 52mins, Walsh goal, 36-12; Hohaia try, 58mins, Walsh goal, 36-18; Dawson try, 65mins, Walsh goal, 36-24; Ratchford drop goal, 69mins, 37-24; Joel Monaghan try, 72mins, 41-24.
Referee: Phil Bentham
Penalties: Wolves 7 Saints 5
Attendance: 28,214 (for all three matches)
Top Man: Stefan Ratchford