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GUARDIAN VERDICT: Warrington Wolves 50 Bradford Bulls 24
SUCCESSIVE win number eight provided Wolves’ highest scoring performance of the Super League season so far.
Tony Smith has praised his side’s defensive efforts on many occasions this season, but it was Wolves’ most clinical attacking performance of the campaign that brought victory on Sunday.
Bradford Bulls, under the guidance of new boss Jimmy Lowes, offered little resistance to the hosts’ fluency.
But Lowes, Smith’s predecessor, was afforded little time ahead of a trip to his former employers and can take heart from his side breaching Wolves’ usually sturdy resolve on four occasions.
The result never looked in doubt, however, and Smith took the decision to rest the previously ever-present Chris Hill and in-form Chris Bridge.
A flurry of tries at the beginning of either half ultimately put pay to any Bradford hopes. It was after two for Joel Monaghan and four within 10 minutes of the restart that Wolves inevitably relaxed.
Smith no doubt got the reaction he wanted from the likes of Gareth O’Brien, with the half back twice going over and making the most of a starting spot in the absence of Bridge and Richie Myler.
Debutant George King also impressed, comfortable with the ball in hand and receiving a generous welcoming from the home crowd when he almost escaped two tacklers with his first Super League touch.
Wolves’ youthful exuberance was well complemented by experienced heads, with Ben Westwood’s commitment never in doubt and Micky Higham at the heart of everything.
His protégé, Brad Dwyer, looks more than capable but it was Higham who carried the hosts forward and boasted a role in at least four of Wolves’ nine scores.
One Higham break resulted in Ryan Atkins collecting his 100th try in 141 games for Warrington, making him the quickest English player to reach a century of scores for the club.
But it was Monaghan who scored arguably the day’s best try, showing his finishing prowess with a superb leap to take Stefan Ratchford’s high kick one handed.
Wolves’ victory against Bradford Bulls was their eighth in a row
Ryan Atkins scored his 100th try for Wolves in 141 games
Atkins became the fastest English player to a century of tries for Warrington
He is third overall, behind Brian Bevan, 100 in 84 games, and Joel Monaghan, 100 in 100
Chris Hill’s absence brought to an end a run of 32 consecutive games for the club
Chris Bridge remains one game away from 200 for the club
Super League Round 18, Sunday, June 29.
Warrington Wolves...50 Bradford Bulls...24
Wolves: Matthew Russell; Gene Ormsby, Joel Monaghan, Ryan Atkins, Rhys Evans; Stefan Ratchford, Gareth O’Brien; Roy Asotasi, Micky Higham, Ben Westwood, Simon Grix, Ben Currie, Ben Harrison. Subs: Anthony England, Glenn Riley, Brad Dwyer, George King.
Bulls: Brett Kearney; Elliot Kear, Adam Henry, Adrian Purtell, Matty Blythe; Lee Gaskell, Luke Gale; Manase Manuokafua, Matt Diskin, Adam Sidlow, Tom Olbison, Jay Pitts, Danny Addy. Subs: Jordan Baldwinson, Adam O’Brien, Chev Walker, James Donaldson.
Scoring: Harrison try, 5mins, 4-0; Atkins try, 7mins, Ratchford goal, 10-0; O’Brien try, 13mins, Ratchford goal, 16-0; Kearney try, 35mins, Gale goal, 16-6; Monaghan try, 41mins, Ratchford goal, 22-6; Westwood try, 45mins, Ratchford goal, 28-6; Monaghan try, 47mins, Ratchford goal, 34-6; Ormsby try, 50mins, 38-6; Purtell try, 57mins, Gale goal, 38-12; O’Brien try, 64mins, Ratchford goal, 44-12; Evans try, 70mins, Ratchford goal, 50-12; Olbison try, 74mins, Gale goal, 50-18; Pitts try, 79mins, Gale goal, 50-24.
Referee: Matt Thomason
Penalties: Wolves 4 Bulls 7
Top man: Micky Higham