TONY Smith is more than aware of Chris Riley’s try-scoring ability.
The winger has crossed more than 100 times for Wolves, yet on Sunday a hat-trick against his employers sent Wakefield on their way to a first win over Smith’s side in 10 attempts.
Riley’s scoring return prior to Sunday’s hat-trick was far from prolific, but the outcome was somewhat ironic, if not inevitable.
Clearly still held fondly by the Wolves faithful, the on-loan 26-year-old’s first was met with chants of ‘there’s only one Chris Riley’. Two tries later and that sentiment was being tested.
Riley’s hat-trick was not Wolves’ single undoing, the winger merely finished off chances handed to him by Wildcats’ quick breaks and Warrington’s missed tackles.
It was almost too perfect a start, ahead inside 30 seconds and a derby loss to Widnes last Friday was all but forgotten.
The excellent Ben Currie would link almost identically with Rhys Evans two minutes into the second half, but for every Wolves score came a Wakefield reply, and more.
Despite enjoying more ball, passes were forced and the fluency from the winning streak lacking.
Wolves were already behind to a Riley double and Danny Washbrook score by the time passes to Gene Ormsby twice went begging before the break.
The hosts welcomed James Laithwaite and Richie Myler’s return and despite looking more energetic than many in primrose and blue, neither was able to provide a creative spark.
Myler was held up over the line shortly after Ben Westwood hwas also stopped short, while Wolves’ success came from Wakefield failing to deal with the high ball.
It worked for Joel Monaghan, who pounced on Gareth O’Brien’s kick, and for Ryan Atkins when Stefan Ratchford’s angled punt was fumbled over their line.
Ratchford executed an impressive chip and collect for his try, but while he, Myler, O’Brien and Chris Bridge all spent time in the half backs, Wakefield trusted in Tim Smith and Jarrod Sammut.
Riley took the headlines, but his return masked a lethargic performance from Wolves, who only two weeks ago were eyeing an 11th successive victory.
Wolves had won their previous nine meetings with Wakefield before Sunday’s loss
Chris Bridge remains seven points away from reaching 1,000 as a Warrington player
Bridge has scored 102 tries, 292 goals and one drop goal in 202 games for Wolves since his debut in 2005
Joel Monaghan needs four more tries to reach his century in Super League for Warrington Wolves
Monaghan has scored 19 times in Super League this season, with a further seven tries coming in the Challenge Cup
Super League Round 22, Sunday, July 27
Warrington Wolves...26 Wakefield Trinity Wildcats...40
Wolves: Matty Russell; Gene Ormsby, Joel Monaghan, Ryan Atkins, Rhys Evans; Chris Bridge, Gareth O’Brien; Chris Hill, Micky Higham, Ben Harrison, Ben Westwood, Ben Currie, Stefan Ratchford. Subs: Richie Myler, Paul Wood, Anthony England, James Laithwaite.
Wildcats: Richie Mathers; Richard Owen, Reece Lyne, Jimmy Keinhorst, Chris Riley; Jarrod Sammut, Tim Smith; Any Raleigh, Paul McShane, Nick Scruton, Lee Gilmour, Danny Kirmond, Danny Washbrook. Subs: Ali Lauititi, Richard Moore, Taulima Tautai, Matty Wilde.
Scoring: Evans try, 1mins, 4-0; Riley try, 8mins, Sammut goal, 4-6; Washbrook try, 18mins, Sammut goal, 4-12; Riley try, 21mins, 4-16; Monaghan try, 32mins, Bridge goal, 10-16; Evans try, 42mins, 14-16; Riley try, 50mins, Sammut goal, 14-22; Ratchford try, 55mins, Ratchford goal, 20-22; Keinhorst try, 60mins, 20-26; Sammut penalty, 68mins, 20-28; Atkins try, 70mins, Ratchford goal, 26-28; Mathers try, 73mins, Sammut goal, 26-34; Scruton try, 76mins, Sammut goal, 26-40.
Referee: Tim Roby
Penalties: Wolves 9 Wakefield 5
Top man: Ben Currie