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GUARDIAN VERDICT: Warrington Wolves 54 Castleford Tigers 6
Lee Briers hurt his ankle against Castleford, but should be fit to play Bradford in the cup on Saturday. Pictures by Mike Boden
THERE was a fresh but familiar feel around The Halliwell Jones Stadium on Sunday.
It has taken a while, but things started to click for the team and players as they gave a glimpse of their record-breaking attacking and defensive form of last year in their best home display of the season so far against Castleford Tigers.
Smiles were back on faces both on and off the pitch as a fast start and some hefty defence paved the way for a scintillating first half in which an unstoppable Wolves built up a 38-0 lead.
Admittedly, the nature of Wolves’ opening appeared to hit Ian Millward’s men with some ‘aftershock’ following the previous week’s humiliating Challenge Cup exit at the hands of Championship neighbours Featherstone Rovers.
But it was clear to see that the confidence that helped to sweep all-comers aside in 2011 was back in the ranks and poor Cas copped for a hiding almost as clinical as the 62-0 drubbing of last May.
A big-hitting opening six tackles set the tone, with front rowers Paul Wood and Chris Hill standing out as the pack took immediate control.
Lee Briers, captain in the continued absence of Adrian Morley and Michael Monaghan, thrives with such domination and played a part in the first five tries, with Joel Monaghan marking his 30th birthday with a brace matched over the course of the game by Ryan Atkins on his return from injury.
The outside backs looked sharper than at any point this year.
A combination of too many penalties and a stiffened Castleford defence meant the second period did not live up to the first 40 minutes.
But that leaves the team with the challenge of attaining 80-minute performances in coming weeks and hopefully the promise of some more breathtaking rugby that will bring some more big wins and leave us all feeling fully entertained.
First senior home start for Tyrone McCarthy.
Highest win since 66-12 defeat of Wakefield on August 14, 2011.
First try ‘double’ of the season for Brett Hodgson, whose 22 points haul was the highest of the season by an individual player.
Chris Riley has now scored tries in four successive games, currently the best record in Super League.
Ryan Atkins has led to joint second in Super League’s try scoring chart, two behind Wigan’s Josh Charnley.
Micky Higham needs three tries for his career century from all club and international games.
Lee Briers needs three more tries for 150 in all Warrington Wolves matches.
Warrington have only won two of their last nine Challenge Cup meetings with Bradford, but on both occasions have gone on to reach the final at Wembley (1990 and 2010).
Round 12: April 22, 2012 Warrington Wolves...54 Castleford Tigers...6
Brett Hodgson; Joel Monaghan, Chris Bridge, Ryan Atkins, Chris Riley; Lee Briers, Gareth O’Brien; Chris Hill, Micky Higham, Paul Wood, Ben Westwood, Trent Waterhouse, Tyrone McCarthy. Subs: Brad Dwyer, Simon Grix, Mike Cooper, Ben Harrison.
Nick Youngquest; Josh Atkinson, Jordan Thompson, Brett Ferres, Josh Griffin; Ryan McGoldrick, Danny Orr; Nathan Massey, Adam Milner, Jonathan Walker, Lee Mitchell, Oliver Holmes, Jake Emmitt. Subs: Craig Huby, Stuart Jones, Daryl Clark, Grant Millington.
Bridge try, 7mins, Hodgson goal, 6-0; Waterhouse try, 17mins, Hodgson goal, 12-0; Monaghan try, 25mins, Hodgson goal, 18-0; Monaghan try, 28mins, 22-0; Hodgson try, 40mins, 26-0; Hodgson try, 40+mins, Hodgson goal, 32-0; Atkins try, 40+mins, Hodgson goal, 38-0; Atkins try, 55mins, 42-0; Mitchell try, 63mins, Orr goal, 42-6; Riley try, 77mins, Hodgson goal, 48-6; Grix try, 80+mins, Hodgson goal, 54-6.
Wolves 8 Tigers 13