THE collective sigh of relief emanating from The Halliwell Jones Stadium could probably have been heard in Grappenhall.
But while Wolves’ first win of the season was much-needed, not least for the morale of both fans and players alike, it arguably was not a fair reflection on the balance of power within the game.
For all the talk of improved kicking game and better defence, Wolves are still not firing on all cylinders, especially in attack.
This was perhaps best demonstrated in the final 10 minutes of the first half, when several opportunities presented themselves to the hosts once Hull’s Jamie Shaul had seen yellow for a foul on Stefan Ratchford.
Two fine chances to extend their lead broke down with Hull seemingly at their mercy, but the final pass or right run just did not arrive until Ben Evans tenaciously chased Gareth O’Brien’s fine grubber to score the decisive try just before the break.
It is when Wolves move within 20 metres of the opposition line that their Briers-shaped hole seems most apparent, though it is probably worth noting that an in-form Wolves with Briers at the helm lost the corresponding fixture last year. Go figure.
That said, there were also plenty of positives to take from what was an extremely hard-fought match in difficult conditions.
Now he has finally been given a chance to string a run of games together, O’Brien is rising to the occasion in fine style.
His kicking game, in the first half in particular, had Tony Smith purring and he guided Wolves around the pitch with assurance.
He certainly outshone half back partner Richie Myler and his performances will give Smith a dilemma when working out how to fit the returning Matty Russell into his side.
Other notable performances came from scorers Stefan Ratchford and Trent Waterhouse, who continues to work tirelessly on the left edge in defence.
While far from vintage Wolves, it was certainly a step in the right direction and you feel that they are not far from making it click.
Sunday’s attendance against Hull FC (10,276) was larger than the corresponding fixture in 2013 by 889, with last year’s match drawing in 9,387.
Both Trent Waterhouse and Stefan Ratchford scored their first tries of the season against Hull FC.
Chris Bridge is two tries away from celebrating a career century of touchdowns.
Tony Smith’s fifth anniversary as Wolves boss takes place this week, with his first game in charge being the 60-8 defeat to Harlequins in 2009.
Stefan Ratchford has scored tries in the Wolves’ last four meetings with London Broncos as follows: 1-1-2-1.
Super League Round 3
Sunday,March 2, 2014
Wolves: Stefan Ratchford; Joel Monaghan, Chris Bridge, Ryan Atkins, Gene Ormsby; Gareth O’Brien, Richie Myler; Chris Hill, Micky Higham, Roy Asotasi, Ben Westwood, Trent Waterhouse, Ben Currie. Subs: Ben Evans, Michael Monaghan, James Laithwaite, Anthony England.
Hull: 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.
Scoring: Ratchford try, 5mins, Ratchford goal, 6-0; Houghton try, 12mins, Crooks goal, 6-6; Waterhouse try, 20mins, 10-6; Evans try, 37mins, Ratchford goal, 16-6; Ratchford penalty goal, 40mins, 18-6; Lineham try, 60mins, 18-10; Talanoa try, 77mins, Crooks goal, 18-16.
Pens: Wolves 10 Hull 7
Referee: James Child
Wolves’ Top Man: Gareth O’Brien