WARRINGTON Wolves are on course for their first win of the 2014 Super League season after a bright opening half against Hull FC.
Tries from Stefan Ratchford, Trent Waterhouse and Ben Evans give the home side the advantage over the Airlie Birds, who struck through Danny Houghton.
Despite a brief scare in the opening minute when Tom Lineham’s break up the wing threatened to give Hull a brilliant start, Wolves controlled the early stages. Once Hull’s attack had broken down with the concession of a penalty, Wolves leapt on to the front foot and made it count. Gareth O’Brien’s kick to the corner forced an excellent spell of pressure, which ended when Richie Myler’s grubber on the last bounced kindly into Stefan Ratchford’s grasp as he crossed the Hull line. Ratchford added the extras himself and Wolves led 6-0 after five minutes.
But that try seemed to spark Hull into life, as the visitors went on to camp out on Wolves’ line straight from the restart. Wolves carried the kick off into touch, resulting in a goal-line drop-out that allowed Hull some chances at the Warrington line. The Airlie Birds’ hooker Danny Houghton eventually made the breakthrough, burrowing over from dummy half and giving Ben Crooks a chance to make it 6-6 after 13 minutes.
A Ratchford knock on 40 metres from Wolves’ line then threatened to give Hull the advantage, but some stout defending kept the Black and Whites at bay.
Hull’s wrestling and delay tactics were attracting the ire of the home crowd as well as the attention of referee James Child. Wolves won five first half penalties, largely for holding down in the tackle and problems around the ruck. On 20 minutes, Wolves used one of these to their advantage when Trent Waterhouse took Micky Higham’s short pass and charged over in the left corner. Ratchford could not convert, but Wolves had recaptured the lead.
The home side were unfortunate not to extend their lead in the following 15 minutes, firstly from a superb kick return from Stefan Ratchford on the half hour. The run led to Hull being stripped of a man for the rest of the first half, as full back Jamie Shaul saw yellow after hauling his opposite number down and preventing him from playing the ball. The resultant attack was ended when Richie Myler’s pass evaded Gene Ormsby on the wing.
Wolves had another chance to extend their lead less than five minutes later, when Ben Currie and Joel Monaghan broke brilliantly up the right wing only for Currie to trip his teammate accidentally after he had released him up the flank. Hull scrambled to get back and Wolves’ fleeting chance broke down when Anthony England dropped Myler’s pass.
Warrington, though, were looking to make their man advantage count. They got closer and closer as the half wore on, with O’Brien’s sublime chip to the corner just bouncing unkindly for the chasing Joel Monaghan. From the resulting goal-line drop-out though, Wolves struck. O’Brien again provided a lovely kick, this time a teasing grubber into the path of Ben Evans, who beat the chasing defender to touch down. Ratchford added the conversion and a late penalty shot to give his side an 18-6 lead at the break.
Wolves: Stefan Ratchford; Gene Ormsby, Ryan Atkins, Chris Bridge, Joel Monaghan; Gareth O’Brien, Richie Myler; Chris Hill, Micky Higham, Roy Asotasi, Trent Waterhouse, Ben Westwood, Ben Currie. Subs: Michael Monaghan, Anthony England, James Laithwaite, Ben Evans.
Hull FC: Jamie Shaul; Tom Lineham, Ben Crooks, Kirk Yeaman, Fetuli Talanoa; Jordan Rankin, Richard Horne; Mickey Paea, Danny Houghton, Josh Bowden, Gareth Ellis, Jay Pitts, Joe Westerman. Subs: Richard Whiting, Aaron Heremaia, Jordan Thompson, Feka Paleaaesina.