FULL TIME, PICTURES ADDED: Warrington Wolves 26 Wakefield Trinity Wildcats 14 (From Warrington Guardian)
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FULL TIME, PICTURES ADDED: Warrington Wolves 26 Wakefield Trinity Wildcats 14
WARRINGTON Wolves remain in the hunt for the League Leader’s Shield as they leapt into second place courtesy of a victory over Wakefield Trinity Wildcats at The Halliwell Jones Stadium.
Following Huddersfield Giants’ impressive humbling of fellow title-chasers Wigan Warriors at The DW Stadium on Friday night, Wolves had to win if they were to hold any chance of chasing Paul Anderson’s men to the hub cap as the regular season enters its final furlong.
Warrington sit one point off the top spot with three games of the regular season remaining, though they do enjoy a superior points difference to the league leaders.
Without several of their first team regulars, a new-look Wolves largely kept Wakefield at arms length, helped by the excellent stint from starting props Chris Hill and Paul Wood throughout.
With ball in hand Warrington scythed through the Trinity Wildcat’s defence, and with enough ease to make light of Wolves’ wastefulness from the kicking tee. Stefan Ratchford and Chris Bridge missed five of six kicks between them, and Tony Smith will be hoping Brett Hodgson will soon be in a position to return to goal-kicking duties before the play-offs roll around.
Relishing his chance to pull the strings, Michael Monaghan started to work well off the back some superb work from the forwards down the middle. He played two excellent long passes in the opening stages, the second leading directly to Wolves’ opening try in the eighth minute. Riley’s offload set Wolves free up the right and Monaghan’s pinpoint pass set up a two-on-one in the corner that allowed Chris Bridge to slip Joel Monaghan over.
Wolves had been in total control up to this point, keeping Wakefield pinned back with some ferocious drives from Chris Hill and Paul Wood, as well as Micky Higham’s probing runs. Wakefield’s kicking game had not been much help either, and this constant pressure had allowed Wolves to go close to a second through Higham.
But the dynamic changed on 15 minutes, when a loose Ben Westwood pass was intercepted on the halfway line. Higham had done well to restrict the progress in the immediate aftermath, but Wildcats still pounced to level the scores. Later in the tackle count Tim Smith’s lofted kick beat Chris Riley in the air and Frankie Mariano got the ball down.
Wolves wasted no time in responding, retaking the lead just four minutes later. The ball was whipped right down the line and Brett Hodgson chimed in to sell the Wakefield defence a dummy and burrow over. Stefan Ratchford missed his second kick of the game to give his side an 8-4 advantage.
Having been in total control in the opening stages, Wolves were starting to allow the visitors back into the game in the second quarter. Wood’s knock on marked the start of Wakefield’s best spell of possession after 25 minutes, Trinity Wildcats making the most of a scrum on Wolves’ 10m line and a subsequent penalty to build pressure.
The hosts thought they had done enough to release that pressure when quick thinking from Stefan Ratchford stole possession back from a loose play-the-ball, but Wakefield had other ideas. The home side failed to sufficiently clear the danger with a weak set that ended with Joel Monaghan’s scrambled kick attempt rolling off the pitch, handing Wakefield the green light. Danny Kirmond punished this lapse, crashing through three defenders a few tackles later to level the scores.
Wolves were still the dominant side, though, and would have twice had themselves in decent positions but for Ratchford being penalised while trying to play-the-ball and a later forward pass on the left flank. Luckily Michael Monaghan was still enjoying his time in the middle and it was a piece of magic from the former Manly hooker that opened Wakefield once up again. His dummy left Wakefield grasping at thin air as he broke the line, and though his offload could not find Ben Harrison, Higham was on hand to pounce on the loose ball. Ratchford added his first goal of the day to give Wolves a 14-8 half time lead.
The second half started as an arm wrestle as Wolves allowed their two starting props a rest. But Wolves’ edge in their attacking options still meant they were much more of a threat, leading to a quick-fire double that should have put the game to bed. First, a copy of one of their earlier tries saw Warrington send the ball right through Michael Monaghan and Bridge, before Joel Monaghan enjoyed a trademark dive into the corner.
It was a nifty pass that set up the second, with Hodgson’s nice inside ball sending Ben Westwood charging clear and Bridge was in support to race over for his fifth try of the season.
But where Wolves were really struggling was from the kicking tee, as Ratchford and then Bridge failed to add the extras to both tries, Wolves’ third and fourth missed goal attempts of the game.
This allowed Wakefield to keep within striking distance despite offering much less of a threat in attack, something that was made abundantly clear when Liam Kay plucked Trent Waterhouse’s stray pass out of the air to race the length of the field. A try which, after Smith’s goal, meant Wakefield were still only eight points back.
That gap was stretched once again when Riley finished off a superb passing move that involved nearly the whole side as the ball went from right to left. But another missed kick from Ratchford, his fifth of the day, meant that Wolves were still only 12 points to the good as the match entered the final 10 minutes. Wolves held on comfortably, but those missed kicks would almost certainly have been more important had Wolves been up against a tougher side on the day.
Wolves: Brett Hodgson; Joel Monaghan, Chris Bridge, Smon Grix, Chris Riley; Stefan Ratchford, Michael Monaghan; Paul Wood, Micky Higham, Chris Hill, Ben Westwood, James Laithwaite, Tyrone McCarthy. Subs: Trent Waterhouse, Ben Harrison, Ben Currie, Brad Dwyer.
Wildcats: Richard Mathers; Liam Kay, Reece Lyne, Frankie Mariano, Ben Cockayne; Lee Smith, Tim Smith; Andy Raleigh, Paul Aiton, Kyle Amor, Ali Lauititi, Danny Kirmond, Kyle Trout. Subs: Danny Washbrook, Oliver Wilkes, Bobbie Goulding, Taulima Tautai.
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