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GUARDIAN VERDICT: Warrington Wolves 20 Wigan Warriors 0
THREE key facets of Wolves’ play stood out as Ben Westwood’s 10 years of service were marked with a convincing win against Wigan.
Keeping last season’s top points scorers to a big fat zero is no mean feat, neither is the way they got to grips with the style of play needed on a soggy pitch that 70-plus volunteers had appreciatively cleared of snow earlier in the day.
And the players looked so sharp in preparation for the new Super League campaign.
It was impressive that Tony Smith’s men hardly give the Pies a sniff of their own half, never mind the try line.
Wolves’ pack men got on the front foot from the start and were totally dominant, giving kickers Lee Briers, Richie Myler and Michael Monaghan the platform for penning the visitors deep into their own territory.
When Wolves had possession they looked organised and disciplined, while the occasional dropped or miss-timed pass could be excused at this stage of the year on a night when the rate of sleet and rain grew.
Wolves bagged two tries in each half through Joel Monaghan, Rhys Evans, Brett Hodgson and Chris Riley but had four others chalked off for infringements.
Wigan’s defence also came to the rescue on numerous occasions.
The 4,696 fans who braved the winter’s night in tribute to Westwood’s huge efforts in primrose and blue would have left The Halliwell Jones Stadium well pleased with what they saw.
So did boss Tony Smith.
Wigan are expected to provide a more formidable challenge in Super League round two next weekend, when the likes of Sam Tomkins, Sean O’Loughlin and Pat Richards should add an extra dimension to Wigan’s attack.
Wolves: Brett Hodgson (1t, 2g); Joel Monaghan (1t), Rhys Evans (1t), Ryan Atkins, Chris Riley (1t); Lee Briers, Richie Myler; Adrian Morley, Micky Higham, Chris Hill, Ben Westwood, Simon Grix, Ben Harrison. Subs: James Laithwaite, Ben Currie, Michael Monaghan, Garreth Carvell, Paul Wood, Mike Cooper, Stefan Ratchford, Tyrone McCarthy, Rhys Williams, Gareth O’Brien.
Warriors: Jack Murphy; Josh Charnley, Darrell Goulding, Iain Thornley, Dominic Menfredi; Blake Green, Matty Smith; Paul Prescott, Michael McIlorum, Lee Mossop, Liam Farrell, Jack Hughes, Ben Flower. Subs: Epalahame Lauaki, Logan Tomkins, Gil Dudson, Scott Taylor, Rhodri Lloyd, Anthony Gelling, Sam Powell, Dominic Crosby, Greg Burke, Lewis Tierney