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GUARDIAN VERDICT: Warrington Wolves 15 Catalan Dragons 6
MONDAY night’s victory over Catalan Dragons was most un-Warringtonlike but encouraging and welcome.
Not only did the success put a three-point gap between Wolves and one of their main rivals for a home run in the play-offs – as a top two finish would guarantee – it provided provided further indication that the team are building towards something special.
Rarely do Wolves win a game by scoring only 15 points. You have to go back to the 14-10 win at Huddersfield in Fenruary, 2010, to beat it.
Some credit has to go to Catalan for their show of French resistance, while Wolves did suffer a little disruption by losing chief playmaker Lee Briers to Achilles trouble just 40 minutes before kick off.
England’s Stefan Ratchford stepped into the breach after turning up expecting to watch the game and in those circumstances Wolves overcame the late setback in fine style.
But because Wolves’ attack did sometimes lack some of its fluency, it meant defence was key to victory.
And the way the players toiled for each other, especially when two tries were prevented in the opening five minutes of the second half, the platform was in place for a spark of genius.
Two sparks in fact.
First of all Chris Bridge broke clear and then later in the set Ryan Atkins accepted a fast pass from Ben Harrison and dabbed the ball behind full back Clint Greenshields to pounce for a try that put Wolves 10-0 ahead.
Dragons roared back to cut the gap to 10-6 but Wolves held their nerve and smart thinking to bang over a penalty goal and a decisive Michael Monagahn drop goal ensured the success was in the bag.
There were heroes across the field, but the work of the pack was first class against big opposition.
Lowest scoring Super League match that Wolves have won.
Wolves have not won a lower scoring league match since the 11-2 defeat of Wiidnes at Wilderspool on Boxing Day, 1994.
Least number of points Wolves have scored in a win since the 14-10 success at Huddersfield on February 28, 2010.
Fewest number of points scored in a match involving Wolves since 8-6 home loss to Harlequins on March 29, 2008.
Lowest number of points Wolves have scored in a match since 24-10 home defeat to Hull on Easter Monday, April 25, 2011.
Lee Briers needs two more tries for 150 in all Wolves matches. He is currently on 1,000 goals for the club, made up of 930 place kicks (conversions and penalties) and a club record 70 drop goals.
Hooker Micky Higham needs three tries for his career century from all club and international appearances.
Round 20: July 9, 2012 Warrington Wolves...15 Catalan Dragons...6
Brett Hodgson; Joel Monaghan, Chris Bridge, Ryan Atkins, Chris Riley; Stefan Ratchford, Gareth O’Brien; Garreth Carvell, Micky Higham, Chris Hill, Trent Waterhouse, Ben Westwood, Ben Harrison. Subs: Adrian Morley, Mike Cooper, Michael Monaghan, Tyrone McCarthy.
Clint Greenshields; Damien Blanch, Daryl Millard, Vincent Duport, Damien Cardace; Leon Pryce, Scott Dureau; David Ferriol, Ian Henderson, Remi Casty, Steve Menzies, Lopini Paea, Jason Baitieri. Subs: Greg Mounis, Sebastien Raguin, Eloi Pelissier, Jamal Fakir.
Westwood try, 14mins, Hodgson goal, 6-0; Atkins try, 52mins, 10-0; Baitieri try, 60mins, Dureau goal, 10-6; O’Brien penalty, 67mins, 12-6; Michael Monaghan drop goal, 72mins, 13-6; Hodgson penalty, 80+mins, 15-6.