WOLVES’ Challenge Cup quarter-final success at Bradford was a mark of how far the team have come in the space of a month.
Since losing to bottom-of-the-table Bulls on May 5 this was Wolves’ fifth win on the trot, securing a fifth Challenge Cup semi-final appearance in six years.
On their last trip to the Provident Stadium, Odsal, Tony Smith’s men were low on confidence and struggling to string together consistent attacking moves, while also missing a glut of tackles.
That is not how it is now.
Wolves defended stoutly and ran up their highest away win of the year.
Smith settled his ‘three half backs will not fit into two shirts’ conundrum by pitching Stefan Ratchford at loose forward, and it was he, Richie Myler and Chris Bridge who ran the show.
Energetic Ratchford, who also figured in the second row and half backs during the 80 minutes, ran his blood to water – making 41 tackles, regular ground-gaining runs out of dummy half as well as creating a couple of tries.
Livewire Myler, starting a game for the first time since the home Super League loss to Hull KR in April, joined Joel Monaghan in crossing for two scores – the opener in the 14th minute seemed to settle early nerves and the decisive effort in the 65th minute as Wolves pulled 30-10 clear.
And in-form Bridge, celebrating his England squad recall, had his hand in the majority of Wolves’ best attacking play, including two tries that counted and two that did not in a second half which he ended with seven conversions from eight attempts.
Once again Chris Hill and Anthony England got Wolves on the front foot early on, the latter having his best game for Warrington in Smith’s eyes.
Michael Monaghan was dominant around the ruck and his presence will be missed after tearing his calf in the final three minutes.
However, Wolves have found ways of coping without Ben Westwood, Paul Wood, Trent Waterhouse, Ben Harrison, Matty Russell, Simon Grix, Ratchford and Myler for chunks of the season and judging from current form can rise to the challenge again.
Wolves’ highest away win of the year
Five wins on the trot is Wolves’ best form of the season
Gene Ormsby’s first Challenge Cup try for Warrington
First start at loose forward for Stefan Ratchford
Simon Grix’s first game since picking up injury in the home loss to Hull KR on April 11
Ryan Atkins was also a try scorer and Chris Bridge was also the goal kicker in the 2010 quarter-final success away to Bradford.
Chris Bridge broke the 150-point barrier for the season so far, he has scored 12 tries and 53 goals.
The turnout at Bradford was the lowest attendance across the quarter-finals, 5,064, with 7,145 turning out at Leeds, 5,252 at Widnes and 8,736 at Wigan.
Tetley's Challenge Cup quarter-final Sunday, June 8
Bradford Bulls...10 Warrington Wolves...46
Bulls: Lee Gaskell; Elliot Kear, Adrian Purtell, Matty Blythe, Luke George; Danny Addy, Luke Gale; Manase Manuokafoa, Matt Diskin, Chev Walker, Jay Pitts, Tom Olbison, James Donaldson. Subs: Adam Sidlow, Adam O’Brien, Jamal Fakir, Adam Henry.
Wolves: Matty Russell; Gene Ormsby, Joel Monaghan, Ryan Atkins, Rhys Evans; Chris Bridge, Richie Myler; Chris Hill, Michael Monaghan, Anthony England, Ben Harrison, Ben Currie, Stefan Ratchford. Subs: Micky Higham, Roy Asotasi, Simon Grix, Ben Evans.
Scoring: Myler try, 14mins, Bridge goal, 0-6; Kear try, 19mins, 4-6; Atkins try, 22mins, Bridge goal, 4-12; Russell try, 27mins, Bridge goal, 4-18; George try, 46mins, Gale goal, 10-18; Ormsby try, 53mins, Bridge goal, 10-24; Myler try, 65mins, Bridge goal, 10-30; Joel Monaghan try, 69mins, Bridge goal, 10-36; Joel Monaghan try, 75mins, Bridge goal, 10-42; Currie try, 78mins, 10-46.
Referee: Phil Bentham
Penalties: Bulls 4 Wolves 7
Top Man: Stefan Ratchford