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GUARDIAN VERDICT: Wakefield Trinity Wildcats 12 Warrington Wolves 42
Stefan Ratchford bagged a brace on his first team return from shoulder injury. Pictures by MIKE BODEN
IT was a game in which the scoreline may have flattered Wolves a little, but there is no doubting who should have walked away with the spoils.
The ease with which Wolves’ backline, marshalled by the relatively inexperienced and untried half back pairing of Gareth O’Brien and Stefan Ratchford, sent Ryan Atkins and Chris Riley over for their tries in the first half indicated that it was only a matter of time before the visitors would put the game to bed.
But Wakefield battled excellently in the first half and for the opening spell of the second, showing the spirit that enabled them to push Wolves so close at The Halliwell Jones Stadium earlier this season.
Micky Higham seems to be relishing his chance for regular game time in the absence of Michael Monaghan, with the hooker doing an excellent job of putting his side on the front foot and directing them around the park with an industrious performance, while Simon Grix was again used as an able replacement for the 31-year-old off the bench.
Brett Hodgson’s consistency tends to mean that only his most outstanding performances are highlighted, but his calming influence at the back and his organisational know-how helped Wolves keep control.
He had a hand in almost all of Wolves’ scoring moves, with the cut-out pass to Atkins the stand out, but it was his all-round play and 100 per cent record with the boot that again demonstrated his importance to a Wolves side that was missing several of its other generals.
There may have been less of Wolves’ ‘champagne’ style of play, but Matty Blythe’s sublime offload to Ratchford for his first try was a highlight, while fellow centre Atkins picked up a hat-trick.
Despite that, Tony Smith admitted that both himself and Atkins were disappointed with a few aspects of his play. When those views are held after a hat-trick it shows how highly he is rated.
Brett Hodgson has not missed a kick at goal since the 44th minute conversion to Joel Monaghan’s try against Bradford Bulls in the fifth round of the Challenge Cup on April 28. He has now kicked 15 on the trot.
Ryan Atkins’ second hat-trick against his former club Wakefield Trinity Wildcats, with his 14 Super League tries now placing him second behind Wigan’s Josh Charnley (18) in the competition’s try-scoring charts.
Wolves have now gone six games unbeaten, with their last defeat being away to Catalan Dragons in Super League on Easter Monday.
Hooker Micky Higham needs three tries for his career century from all club and international appearances.
Lee Briers needs three more tries for 150 in all Wolves matches, and is 11 goals away from reaching 1,000 in his club and international career.
Round 14: May 20, 2012 Wakefield Trinity Wildcats...12 Warrington Wolves...42
Richie Mathers; Peter Fox, Dean Collis, Paul Sykes, Ben Cockayne; Isaac John, Tim Smith; Paul Johnson, Paul Aiton, Andy Raleigh, Ali Lauitiiti, Frankie Mariano, Danny Washbrook. Subs: Kyle Wood, Kyle Amor, Steve Southern, Kyle Trout.
Brett Hodgson; Rhys Williams, Matty Blythe, Ryan Atkins, Chris Riley; Stefan Ratchford, Gareth O’Brien; Chris Hill, Micky Higham, Paul Wood, Tyrone McCarthy, Ben Westwood, Ben Harrison. Subs: Garreth Carvell, Mike Cooper, Simon Grix, Ben Currie.
Mariano try, 5mins, Sykes goal, 6-0; Atkins try, 7mins, Hodgson goal, 6-6; Riley try, 21mins, Hodgson goal, 6-12; Southern try, 34mins, Sykes goal, 12-12; Ratchford try, 49mins, Hodgson goal, 12-18; Ratchford try, 62mins, Hodgson goal, 12-24; Atkins try, 66mins, Hodgson goal, 12-30; Atkins try, 73mins, Hodgson goal, 12-36; Riley try, 77mins, Hodgson goal, 12-42.
Wildcats 11 Wolves 10