WOLVES’ victory over Catalan Dragons should not be underestimated.
Although that night’s headlines unsurprisingly focused on the bad-tempered nature of the clash, the way Wolves pulled through in difficult circumstances while not yet firing on all cylinders was impressive.
They had reasons not to perform, with their week of preparation affected by injuries or illness to playing and coaching staff, having to accommodate a tighter playing style to rebuff Catalan’s physical approach, losing skipper Adrian Morley to a seventh-minute bicep injury, the stifling and niggling tactics by the visitors as well as the weak officiating.
And they overcame all of that after having expended vast chunks of early-season energy to gain a draw in another physical battle with Wigan just seven days earlier.
The ability to be able to deliver week after week is the biggest challenge that presents over the 27 rounds prior to the play-offs.
It is true, Wolves did not have things all their own way on Friday, nor did they succeed in the way they would have liked.
They also got dragged into skirmishes and lost some of their own discipline under considerable provocation.
But a win is a win.
There was no whirlwind scoring start that has become their trademark, but the patient way that they built up a 16-0 lead inside 35 minutes and then hit back after a Dragons points rally was a show of mental strength and was decisive.
It was good to see the pack men not allowing themselves to be bullied by their French counterparts.
And it was encouraging to see Michael Monaghan, Richie Myler, Stefan Ratchford and Brett Hodgson controlling much of the game on a day when chief architect Lee Briers was sidelined with injury.
Rhys Evans’ sharp reflexes and sheer persistence in defusing Myler’s wonderfully drilled kick in order to score the concluding home try was also a significant contribution in taking Wolves up to second spot in the table.
Attendance was more than 500 down on same game last year.
Paul Wood is now one game away from 300 for Warrington Wolves.
Richie Myler now only needs two tries for a career century of touchdowns. Also currently holds the game’s longest streak of tries in consecutive matches, having touched down in each of his last four games.
One more try for Ben Westwood to clock up his 100th in primrose and blue.
Lee Briers needs two tries for his Wolves 150.
Micky Higham is one try short of his career century, while he made his 100th appearance for Wolves against Catalan.
Garreth Carvell reached 300 career appearances against Catalan, with 107 of them coming for Wolves.
Mike Cooper’s 100th Super League game, including six while on loan with Castleford Tigers.
The 250th win of Tony Smith’s coaching career.
Super League Round 3 Friday, February 15, 2013
Warrington Wolves..24 Catalan Dragons...16
Wolves: Brett Hodgson; Joel Monaghan, Rhys Evans, Ryan Atkins, Chris Riley; Stefan Ratchford, Richie Myler; Adrian Morley, Michael Monaghan, Chris Hill, Trent Waterhouse, Ben Westwood, Simon Grix. Subs: Garreth Carvell, Micky Higham, Paul Wood, Mike Cooper.
Dragons: Brent Webb; Damien Blanch, Steve Menzies, Vincent Duport, Daryl Millard; Leon Pryce, Thomas Bosc; Jamal Fakir, Ian Henderson, Remi Casty, Seb Taia, Louis Anderson, Jason Baitieri. Subs: Eloi Pelissier, Kevin Larroyer, Olivier Elima, Mickael Simon.
Scoring: Joel Monaghan try, 8mins, Hodgson goal, 6-0; Joel Monaghan try, 31mins, 10-0; Myler try, 35mins, Hodgson goal, 16-0; Blanch, 40+mins, Bosc conversion, 16-6; Blanch, 49mins, Bosc goal, 16-12; Evans try, Hodgson conversion, 22-12; Hodgson penalty, 70mins, 24-12; Taia try, 80+mins, 24-16.
Pens: Wolves 10 Dragons 6
Referee: Richard Silverwood
Top man: Michael Monaghan