FACING a notoriously difficult trip to France on the back of successive defeats and with a Challenge Cup semi final lurking eight days later, Friday’s outing at Catalan Dragons seemed a daunting prospect.
Then the rain came, adding to the task at Stade Gilbert Brutus, where only Leeds Rhinos and Wigan Warriors had departed with wins this season.
But Wolves, buoyed by the many fans that made the trip, put in a battling, calculated and at times courageous performance that was unrecognisable from defeats to Wakefield and Widnes.
It was not without error, the wet conditions resulting in dropped catches for both sides, but with Michael Monaghan leading his side around the park the visitors took a deserved half-time lead.
You would not have picked the skipper as the player to be retiring in a few months, returning from a lengthy lay-off and putting in a monumental 80-minute stint.
The 34-year-old rolled the Catalan defence to break the deadlock and his quick dummy-half work sent Gene Ormsby over.
Then it was the consistency of Chris Bridge versus the vision of Thomas Bosc. Both were faultless, converting all in front of them.
For Bridge this meant crossing the impressive 1,000-point mark in a Wolves shirt, while his penalty also proved the difference.
Bosc showed his creativity to thread a grubber into Michael Oldfield’s path, while Bridge proved clinical from close range and Rhys Evans profited.
With the semi final looming, Tony Smith left out the experience of Ben Westwood, Ryan Atkins and Micky Higham, but welcomed back, as well as Monaghan, Trent Waterhouse and Simon Grix.
Both enjoyed solid returns, giving Smith a welcome headache ahead of Saturday’s clash with Leeds Rhinos.
The error-prone first half was long forgotten with a second period full of scores, big defence and a two-point difference that went right to the hooter.
Oldfield was able to complete his hat-trick and Gregory Mounis went over, but following Bridge’s penalty, Evans’ try and a Joel Monaghan effort it was ‘allez les primervere et bleus’ in Perpignan.
Super League Round 23, Friday, August 1
Catalan Dragons...24 Warrington Wolves...26
Wolves: Stefan Ratchford; Gene Ormsby, Joel Monaghan, Chris Bridge, Rhys Evans; Richie Myler, Gareth O’Brien; Chris Hill, Michael Monaghan, Anthony England, Trent Waterhouse, Ben Currie, Ben Harrison. Subs: Roy Asotasi, Simon Grix, Paul Wood, Brad Dwyer.
Dragons: Morgan Escare; Michael Oldfield, Ben Pomeroy, Zeb Taia, Daryl Millard; Leon Pryce, Thomas Bosc; Julian Bosquet, Ian Henderson, Jeff Lima, Louis Anderson, Elliot Whitehead, Jason Baitieri. Subs: Gregory Mounis, Eloi Pelissier, Mickael Simon, Lopini Paea.
Scoring: M Monaghan try, 12mins, Bridge goal, 0-6; Oldfield try, Bosc goal, 6-6; Ormsby try, 39mins, Bridge goal, 6-12; Bridge penalty, 43mins, 6-14; Mounis try, 48mins, Bosc goal, 12-14; Evans try, 54mins, Bridge goal, 12-20; Oldfield try, 62mins, Bosc goal, 18-20; J Monaghan try, 65mins, Bridge goal, 18-26; Oldfield try, 72mins, Bosc goal, 24-26.
Referee: Richard Silverwood
Penalties: Dragons 5 Wolves 6
Top man: Michael Monaghan