‘UGLY’ was how Tony Smith described Warrington Wolves’ win in Super League Round 17.
The boss was under no illusion his side’s performance did not live up to recent weeks, but even if Wolves weren’t at their beautiful best their winning run speaks volumes.
Victory against Salford Red Devils at The Halliwell Jones Stadium on Sunday increases their streak to seven – with no signs of stopping.
An early season Wolves outfit would likely have lost this game, especially after finding themselves behind to a Junior Sa’u try within two minutes.
It came from a Ben Evans error, something of a rarity in recent weeks in which the prop has produced a string of solid performances – frustrating then that the 21-year-old was forced off in the second half with a potentially serious ankle injury.
But Wolves showed how far they have come since opening their campaign with successive defeats to St Helens and Leeds Rhinos by hitting back almost immediately.
Gene Ormsby finished the move, despite controversy in Wolves regaining possession after the ball struck a touch judge in the in-goal area, forcing Salford to drop out.
A less than fluent performance followed, albeit lead by the monumental Chris Hill, who commanded several defenders to stop him with every charge.
Wolves had, however, done enough damage via tries from Ryan Atkins, Chris Bridge and Joel Monaghan to stave off any hopes the Red Devils had of a comeback by the interval.
Adrian Morley tried his best to salvage something from his return, leaving with a try and a role in Salford’s third but no Super League points on the board.
Wolves again could have folded following the 37-year-old’s reply and after Niall Evalds crossed.
But Bridge had the nous to add a penalty and Wolves’ character shone through as Rhys Evans went in from Stefan Ratchford’s pass.
An uncharacteristically static defence did allow Evalds to pounce again, but Ben Currie finished things off with a late try to ensure the hosts, however pretty, had the last word.
Wolves’ victory against Salford Red Devils was their seventh in a row
Sunday marked Adrian Morley’s first visit to The Halliwell Jones Stadium in Super League since joining Salford
Joel Monaghan is now joint top try-scorer in the Super League this season alongside Catalans’ Morgan Escare, with 15 in the competition
Monaghan has scored 19 in 18 games including Challenge Cup ties
Chris Hill is the first Wolves player to break the 20-game mark this season, he remains Warrington’s only ever-present this campaign
Super League Round 17, Sunday, June 22
Warrington Wolves...36 Salford Red Devils...20
Wolves: Matty Russell; Gene Ormsby, Joel Monaghan, Ryan Atkins, Rhys Evans; Chris Bridge, Stefan Ratchford; Chris Hill, Micky Higham, Ben Evans, Simon Grix, Ben Westwood, Ben Harrison. Subs: Roy Asotasi, Glenn Riley, Brad Dwyer, Ben Currie.
Salford: Niall Evalds; Greg Johnson, Jason Walton, Junior Sa’u, Francis Meli; Rangi Chase, Tommy Lee; Adrian Morley, Logan Tomkins, Lama Tasi, Andrew Dixon, Matty Ashurst, Jordan Walne. Subs: Tony Puletua, Darrell Grirffin, Steve Rapira, Michael Platt.
Scoring: Sa’u try, two mins, Chase goal, 0-6; Ormsby try, five mins, Bridge goal, 6-6; Atkins try, 18mins, Bridge goal, 12-6; Bridge try, 23mins, 16-6; Monaghan try, 38mins, Bridge goal, 22-6; Morley try, 44mins, Chase goal, 22-12; Evalds try, 57mins, 22-16; Bridge penalty, 62mins, 24-16; R Evans try, 67mins, Bridge goal, 30-16; Evalds try, 75mins, 30-20; Currie try, 79mins, Bridge goal, 36-20.
Referee: James Child
Penalties: Wolves 8 Salford 6
Top man: Ryan Atkins