THAT rousing second-half performance against Huddersfield Giants could be the making of Warrington Wolves this season.
Importantly for the players’ self-worth at the business end of the campaign, the supporters got behind the team like at no other point this year as they recognised the character, desire and effort in clawing back from a 23-6 deficit last Thursday.
As the level of intensity increased on the field in the final 35 minutes or so, Wolves looked to be the team in their element and especially after simplifying their tactics.
The players should have learned that they play their best rugby league when speeding the game up with smart and nippy marauding from dummy-half runners like Michael Monaghan, Micky Higham, Matty Russell and Joel Monaghan.
Eating up metres down the middle and leaving defenders struggling with containment creates opportunities to strike. And as we saw, the one-out running style can be as entertaining as champagne football when executed right.
There ended up being an air of 2011, when Wolves scored tries for fun, about the way Tony Smith’s side rattled up points in whirlwind fashion and in my view only a couple of officiating decisions robbed them of the maximum points they needed to stay in the race for the League Leaders’ Shield.
All of this, in the face of the camp being hit by flu in the build-up, is encouraging and a good base for the play-offs if taken on board.
I like the fact that Wolves, Grand Finalists for the past two years, are flying under the radar this time, taking some pressure off.
Because of changes to personnel, a slow start and some inconsistent form, nobody is talking about Tony Smith’s men as champion material.
But depending on results against St Helens tonight, and against Wigan Warriors next Thursday, Wolves can still finish anywhere from second to sixth and mount a decent bid for an Old Trafford return.
I don’t believe there is a team to fear. This competition is very open this time around, with all rivals having shown some vulnerability in recent times.
If Wolves have got it right with players about to peak just when it matters in Super League’s current format, then I don’t see any reason to count them out at this stage.
I would like them to secure a top- four finish though, so that they can have a second chance in the play-offs if they were to lose their opening game.
Wins at Saints and Wigan, where they’ve had much success in recent years, would secure that and produce a further confidence boost for those players seeking out their best form.