FORM goes out of the window, says the cliché of the derby fixture.
So it proved on Friday, when Wolves visited neighbours Widnes on a 10-game winning streak and on the back of their biggest victory of the season against a relegated London Broncos.
Their hosts had won only twice in that spell, but on the evidence of the Round 21 performance it was the side from the Select Security Stadium that looked like closing in on Super League’s top spot.
Wolves, without several first-teamers through injury or having been rested, offered little to break down a monumental Vikings defence in the first 40 minutes.
Denis Betts’ charges meanwhile set up camp on the artificial surface in Warrington’s half and deserved to be 16 points up through tries from Jack Owens, Rhys Hanbury and Paddy Flynn.
Perhaps potentially losing a play-off spot proved more rousing for Vikings than consolidating a top four place did for Wolves.
Led by former Warrington man Jon Clarke the hosts relentlessly knocked back any threat and capitalised on their own chances.
At one stage they looked to be wilting in the heat and the mass of primrose and blue that had made the short trip sensed a second-half comeback was on the cards.
Cameron Phelps’ early score after the interval made that look unlikely and it took until nearly an hour for Wolves to break through, Stef Marsh’s slip allowing Ryan Atkins room to go the distance.
Wolves were unable to find their usual fluency, not helped by the stop-start nature of the video referee, which saw the game finish more than 15 minutes later than a corresponding fixture at Wigan.
One decision ruled Gene Ormsby to have knocked on for Stefan Ratchford, while at the other end Marsh’s effort was ruled out for rounding his own players.
Tony Smith’s side looked livelier after Atkins’ try and claimed more points in the second period than their hosts with Owens’ second sandwiched by Chris Bridge and Ben Currie efforts.
It is a minor set-back in Wolves’ march to a potential Grand Final, a bigger blow to their followers’ bragging rights.
Wolves’ defeat to Widnes Vikings brought to an end a 10-game winning streak in all competitions
It is Warrington’s best winning run since the 1986-87 season, when they won 14 on the bounce
Chris Bridge needs nine more points to reach 1,000 as a Warrington player
Bridge has scored 102 tries, 291 goals and one drop goal in 202 games for Wolves since his debut in 2005
Having missed the defeat to Widnes on Friday, Ben Harrison remains on a three-game try-scoring run
Joel Monaghan is five tries away from socring 100 in the Super League for Wolves
Monaghan has scored 18 of those this season
Super League Round 21, Friday, July 18
Widnes Vikings...28 Warrington Wolves...14
Wolves: Matty Russell; Gene Ormsby, Stefan Ratchford, Ryan Atkins, Rhys Evans; Chris Bridge, Gareth O’Brien; Chris Hill, Micky Higham, Anthony England, Ben Westwood, Ben Currie, Paul Wood. Subs: Roy Asotasi, Glenn Riley, Brad Dwyer, Joe Philbin.
Vikings: Rhys Hanbury; Jack Owen, Cameron Phelps, Stef Marsh, Paddy Flynn; Kevin Brown, Joe Mellor; Hep Cahill, Jon Clarke, Alex Gerrard, Danny Galea, Danny Tickle, Macgraff Leuluai. Subs: Willie Isa, Liam Carberry, Ben Kavanagh, Dave Allen.
Scoring: Owens try, 9mins, Tickle goal, 6-0; Hanbury try, 36mins, Tickle goal, 12-0; Flynn try, 39mins, 16-0; Phelps try, 46mins, Tickle goal, 22-0; Tickle penalty, 52mins, 24-0; Atkins try, 54mins, 24-4; Bridge try, 57mins, Bridge goal, 24-10; Owens try, 60mins, 28-10; Currie try, 69mins, 28-14.
Referee: Phil Bentham
Penalties: Widnes 7 Wolves 6
Top man: Ryan Atkins