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FULL TIME, PICTURES ADDED: Warrington Wolves 28 Huddersfield Giants 2
WARRINGTON Wolves well and truly cut the Giants down to size at the snowbound and freezing cold Halliwell Jones Stadium tonight.
And Wolves looked as though they had warmed to the idea of playing in such awful conditions far more than their Yorkshire visitors.
Warrington’s pack dominated large chunks of the action against Super League’s biggest set of six, inflicting upon them only their second defeat of the year and keeping them tryless for the first time this season.
In doing so, Wolves succeeded where St Helens, Leeds Rhinos and Wigan Warriors have already failed.
In truth, Wolves were far too lively for the table toppers around the ruck area, where they did a lot of damage and scored some wonderful tries in such difficult playing circumstances.
Chris Hill delivered his best performance of the year as he tore strips out of the likes of Stuart Fielden, Craig Kopczak and Eorl Crabtree with and without the ball.
And there was no shortage of powerful support around him from Garreth Carvell and Paul Wood in particular, while the work of the backs running out of dummy half proved to be a successful tactic too.
The kicking game was crucial, with Stefan Ratchford shining in that area and he deserved the reward of two tries for his efforts.
A Danny Brough seventh-minute penalty goal steered the visitors in front but Wolves did nearly all the pressing in the opening quarter.
When they got close to the Huddersfield line though they struggled to hold on to the ball in the conditions, with Richie Myler particularly bitten by Jack Frost with four knock ons.
But Wolves’ pressure was rewarded in the 21st minute after earning a string of penalties for some messing about at play-the-balls.
An overlap was created on the left where Brett Hodgson linked up with Myler and fed a long pass for Chris Riley to cross in the corner.
A magnificent touchline conversion in the conditions from Hodgson put Wolves in a deserved 6-2 lead.
Giants were not learning after suffering further wrath from referee Ben Thaler and an offside infringement allowed Hodgson to extend the advantage with a further two points from 20 metres out after 30 minutes.
Wolves withstood three sets of six on their own line stemming from two penalties conceded after Hill had knocked on from the restart.
Huddersfield were attempting to turn the screw when Ryan Atkins came up with a special play on such a tricky surface.
He darted out of acting half back and deceptive footwork beat two men and he tore away from Wolves’ 40-metre line.
The left centre had right centre Bridge in support and as the cover closed in he handed over for Ratchford to finish off with a swan dive.
Hodgson’s extras put Wolves 14-2 in front with 39 minutes played and he landed another penalty one minute into the second half from short range after dissent from Shaun Lunt.
The game was killed off in the 63rd minute.
Huddersfield were expecting Myler to kick left on the last tackle but he grubbered to the right where Aaron Murphy fumbled the ball over his own line and Ratchford pounced for his second try. Hodgson’s extras made it 22-2.
Soon after Simon Grix had a try ruled out for obstruction Hodgson got on the end of a skilful Myler offload to slide over next to the sticks and pop over the conversion for 28-2 with 69 minutes gone.
Possibly the match events team were having a laugh when they blasted out Coldplay's Paradise song at the end.
There was more likelihood of seeing a polar bear than a place of beauty on the most arctic of nights.
The fans in the South Stand who were singing they wanted to go home because it was freezing finally could do and with big grins on their faces.
Wolves: Brett Hodgson; Joel Monaghan, Chris Bridge, Ryan Atkins, Chris Riley; Stefan Ratchford, Richie Myler; Chris Hill, Michael Monaghan, Garreth Carvell, Ben Westwood, Simon Grix, Mike Cooper. Subs: Trent Waterhouse, Ben Currie, Micky Higham, Paul Wood.
Giants: Scott Grix; Jermaine McGilvary, Leroy Cudjoe, Joe Wardle, Aaron Murphy; Danny Brough, Luke Robinson; Stuart Fielden, Shaun Lunt, Craig Kopczak, rett Ferres, Dale Ferguson, Jacob Fairbank. Subs: Eorl Crabtree, David Faiumu, Larne Patrick, Jamie Cording.