ROUND one was far from perfect but any win is good on the opening day to a season.
Sunday’s defeat of Castleford allows Wolves to build some momentum for games to come against fellow title chasers Wigan and Catalan before successive trips to Humberside.
It was a little disappointing that Wolves could not maintain the style and flare they showed in building a 22-0 cushion in the opening 15 minutes.
They got a little carried away, forcing passes that handed extra possession to Cas who needed no second invitation to show that they will trouble defences this season.
Robert Hicks stuck his nose where it was not wanted as his merriment with the whistle in the awful new fluorescent pink official’s shirt disrupted the flow and spectacle, especially in a second half won by Cas 12-6.
It was good to see Tony Smith’s man-management skills in full flow, sticking with Rhys Evans at right centre after his strong display in the warm-up game against Wigan.
That worked to the team’s advantage, allowing Stefan Ratchford’s fresh legs to replace Lee Briers in the halves at half time to ‘conserve his fuel’ at this early stage.
Smith also showed a rare tactic of naming only one prop on the bench, perhaps giving a sign of what is to come at stages this year.
When utilising a system that features a third prop playing at loose forward, as was the case with Ben Harrison on Sunday, perhaps Smith feels he has the manoeuvrability within his 13 to compensate for any prop injury in order to allow more flexibility on the bench with a spare three-quarter or utility man like Ratchford.
It meant Trent Waterhouse spent time in the front row, although it could just as easily have been fellow back rower Ben Westwood, whose two tries and trademark robust display against the club he supported as a kid earned him the sponsors’ man-of-the-match award.
* Ben Westwood only needs one more try for his Wolves 100
* Wolves have now won their last eight meetings with Castleford Tigers
* Brett Hodgson has never failed to score when he has played against Castleford
* First time Joel Monaghan has failed to score against Castleford
* Wolves have now clocked up 210 points in their last four meetings with Tigers
* Micky Higham needs one try for a career century
* First time in four seasons that Cas have lost on opening day
* Lowest attendance for Wolves’ opening home game to a season since 2009
Super League Round 1
Sunday, February 3, 2013
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.
Scoring: Riley try, 2mins, 4-0; Atkins try, 5mins, Hodgson goal, 10-0; Evans try, 11mins, Hodgson goal, 16-0; Myler try, 15mins, Hodgson goal, 22-0; Westwood try, 24mins, Hodgson goal, 28-0; Carney try, Ellis goal, 28-6; Carvell try, 39mins, Hodgson goal, 34-6; Shenton try, 40+mins, Ellis goal, 34-12; Westwood try, 43mins, Hodgson goal, 40-12; Owen try, 53mins, Ellis goal, 40-18; Webster try, 78mins, Ellis goal, 40-24.
Pens: Wolves 12 Tigers 8
Referee: Robert Hicks
Top man: Ben Westwood