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FULL TIME: Warrington Wolves 40 Castleford Tigers 24
Man of the match Ben Westwood celebrates his second try in front of the East Stand. Pictures by Mike Boden
WARRINGTON Wolves have got Super League XVIII off to a winning start.
The game was over as a contest when whirlwind Wolves went 22-0 ahead inside 15 minutes.
But they will be disappointed that they did not build further on their 34-12 half-time lead.
Too much possession was lost after the break and the game degenerated from a spectacle thanks to the fussiness of referee Robert Hicks.
Castleford refused to go away and won the second-half battle 12-6, leaving Wolves with plenty to work on ahead of Friday’s trip to Wigan.
Bennie Westwood bagged two tries in a typical barnstorming display, while Michael Monaghan stood out particularly in the opening 30 minutes as he zipped about from dummy half.
Wolves got off to their trademark fast start when Chris Riley touched down the first try of the season.
He scooped up Ryan Atkins’ loose offload to cross from two metres after Cas had been penalised on their own line for offside.
Three minutes later Wolves broke from their own 40-metre line via Simon Grix and he had support from Atkins to finish off try number two after he kept the chasing Richard Owen out of range. Brett Hodgson converted to make it 10-0 after five minutes.
Wolves survived Tigers’ first threatening attack when Rangi Chase was stopped two metres short and hit back in style in the 11th minute.
On the back of a penalty for Cas not being square at the play the ball, Michael Monaghan sped out of dummy half and then a quick combination between Chris Hill and Lee Briers allowed Rhys Evans to get round the outside of Jake Webster for another converted try and 16-0.
Wolves’ fourth try was soon on its way, with Richie Myler doing a jig in and out of three Cas tacklers before scoring with a stretch and Hodgson’s extra two points moved the lead on to 22-0 after 15 minutes.
Westwood was next to cross courtesy of Joel Monaghan skilfully palming backwards from Briers’ high kick and Evans cleverly avoiding touch with an inside pass for the Testimonial man’s first try of 2013 in the 24th minute. Hodgson goaled again.
Cas got on the scoreboard in the 30th minute from their third successive set of six attacking Wolves’ line.
A Chase grubber took a deflection and fell nicely for Jake Webster to hand former Sydney Roosters winger Justin Carney a debut try, converted by Jamie Ellis.
But just as Cas looked to have got a foothold, on the back of some loose Wolves possession, Tony Smith’s men fired again.
A lovely slipped pass from Grix at first receiver enabled Garreth Carvell to crash over in the 39th minute, with Hodgson’s extras restoring Wolves’ 28-point advantage.
Almost immediately Cas turned defence into attack with skipper Michael Shenton having enough pace to hold off Myler’s chase. Ellis booted the extras to leave the sides turning around at 34-12.
Stefan Ratchford replaced Briers at half time and the former Salford man’s kick led to Wolves gang-tackling Jordan Tansey over his own line to earn six more tackles.
On the next set, Myler’s short pass enabled Westwood to pile over for his second try and Hodgson’s boot steered Wolves to the 40 points mark.
But Wolves’ play became scruffy, with lost possession and four penalties conceded on the bounce in what started to become the Robert Hicks show.
Cas made their possession count, finally, when a switch play from Chase and break by Weller Hauraki resulted in Owen crossing in the north west corner. Ellis’ goal made it 40-18.
A long pass from Jordan Tansey put Webster over for the final try in the 78th minute as a spirited Cas side were rewarded for their toil in front of an opening day crowd of 10,721.
Wolves: Brett Hodgson; Joel Monaghan, Rhys Evans, Ryan Atkins, Chris Riley; Lee Briers, Richie Myler; Chris Hill, Michael Monaghan, Adrian Morley, Ben Westwood, Simon Grix, Ben Harrison. Subs: Micky Higham, Garreth Carvell, Trent Waterhouse, Stefan Ratchford.
Tigers: Jordan Tansey; Justin Carney, Michael Shenton, Jake Webster, Richard Owen; Rangi Chase, Jamie Ellis; Keith Mason, Adam Milner, Craig Huby, Lee Gilmour, Weller Hauraki, Oliver Holmes. Subs: Jonathan Walker, Daryl Clark, Nathan Massey, Grant Millington.
Referee: Robert Hicks.