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GUARDIAN VERDICT: Warrington Wolves 68 Widnes Vikings 4
WIDNES fans can count themselves fortunate that Saturday’s result was not much, much worse.
Be it down to Wolves taking their foot off the pedal or Widnes reacting to Denis Betts’ half-time team talk, the way Vikings started the second half potentially saved them from falling to one of the heaviest ever Super League defeats.
There was a period of 30 minutes in which Wolves failed to extend their lead, which, had Widnes not grown into the game, could quite easily have turned into more of what we saw in the opening half hour or the final 20 minutes.
The removal of Patrick Ah Van from Joel Monaghan’s pocket at half time certainly helped in that regard, but ultimately there was too much destruction in the early stages for this match to be anything but a damage limitation exercise.
Tony Smith could not have picked conditions more suited to a Warrington rout, with the sun beating down on the Etihad’s vast pitch and a superb section of travelling support filling one side of the stadium.
It is worth noting that Widnes have failed all year to back up after a hard game and they will certainly have been feeling the after affects of their battle with Catalan Dragons a week earlier.
Regardless, Wolves were on form, with Monaghan’s five-try haul a masterclass in finishing, supported by excellent work under the high ball.
Right-side partner Matty Blythe continued his purple patch, scoring his first senior hat-trick on top of some great breaks and backing up the previous week’s brilliant offload to Stefan Ratchford with another showstopper to give Monaghan his fourth try.
There was also a satisfying dedication to protecting their line in the few instances in which Widnes threatened and while Ryan Atkins may have had a relatively quiet game by his high standards, his superb chase to prevent a certain Widnes try in the first half typified Wolves’ approach to the game as a whole.
Wolves’ highest win against Widnes Vikings in their entire history.
Wolves have now gone seven games unbeaten, equalling their record in the summer era. Their last defeat was away to Catalan Dragons in Super League on Easter Monday.
Winger Joel Monaghan’s first five-try haul for Wolves beats his four in the Challenge Cup clash against Swinton Lions in the club record 112-0 victory of 2011.
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 15: May 26, 2012 Warrington Wolves...68 Widnes Vikings...4
Stefan Ratchford; Joel Monaghan, Matty Blythe, Ryan Atkins, Chris Riley; Lee Briers, Gareth O'Brien; Chris Hill, Simon Grix, Garreth Carvell, Tyrone McCarthy, Trent Waterhouse, Ben Harrison. Subs: Adrian Morley, Mike Cooper, Ben Currie, Brad Dwyer.
Cameron Phelps; Paddy Flynn, Stefan Marsh, Chris Dean, Patrick Ah Van; Joe Mellor, Rhys Hanbury; Ben Cross, Jon Clarke, Steve Pickersgill, Frank Winterstein, Kurt Haggerty, Hep Cahill. Subs: Willie Isa, Ben Davies, Macgruff Leuluai, Alex Gerrard.
Blythe try, 3mins, O'Brien goal, 6-0; Carvell try, 6mins, O'Brien goal, 12-0; Monaghan try, 12mins, 16-0; Atkins try, 19mins, O'Brien goal, 22-0; Monaghan try, 22mins, O'Brien goal, 28-0; Monaghan try, 24mins, O'Brien goal, 34-0; Blythe try, 29mins, O'Brien goal, 40-0; Haggerty try, 47mins, 40-4; Monaghan try, 60mins, 46-4; Blythe try, 63mins, O'Brien goal, 52-4; Ratchford try, 66mins, 56-4; Ben Currie try, 68mins, O'Brien goal, 62-4; Monaghan try, 80mins, O’Brien goal, 68-4.
Wolves 9 Vikings 3
30,763 (aggregate for three matches)