THINGS could have gone badly wrong in London on Sunday and so it was pleasing that Wolves finally worked out the winning formula.
They had to overcome the unfamiliarity of a narrow and hard pitch, the arrivial of warm weather, team changes and an energised but vastly unknown Broncos side boosted recently by an influx of NRL players.
With this season’s first signs of conditions that were good for handling and with getting off to a third-minute opening try from Roy Asotasi, Wolves’ players may have got a little carried away on a crowded pitch, going away from the plan of punching holes in the defence rather than trying to go around it.
Wolves put themselves under pressure by kicking over the dead-ball line three times and giving away two interceptions when in threatening attacking positions.
Broncos, with different half backs and full back to the previous week’s tight contest at Bradford, took advantage and with three tries in 15 minutes they were on a roll.
Wolves needed to find a way of breaking the momentum and it is a sign of strong leadership within the group that there was no panic, no temptation to revert to type by introducing wild offloads while chasing the deficit.
Instead, they got smart and a driving three-man tackle from a restart forced Broncos into a goal-line drop out.
Soon after, Chris Bridge’s powerful surge put Wolves back on track, rewarding some direct approach work instigated by the arrival of the four substitutes and Richie Myler’s promptings after being switched to hooker.
A quickfire double midway through the third quarter gave Wolves a 24-16 lead to defend, and it was clear from improved urgency and intensity that they were not going to let it go.
In the final 12 minutes Ryan Atkins crossed for his first two tries of the season and Rhys Evans completed his outstanding four-try haul – in a right wing shirt usually worn by scoring machine Joel Monaghan (and previously Chris Hicks and Henry Fa’afili) that must be sprinkled in magic dust!
Other highlights were the 50-metre first Super League try that Gene Ormsby has been desperate for, a glimpse of the kick return skill offered by Matty Russell on his debut, Myler proving his capability as hooker cover and the gritty approach work by Chris Hill, Ben Westwood, Trent Waterhouse and form-hitting centres Bridge and Atkins when Wolves needed it most.
Attendance of 1,377 was the lowest to witness a Warrington Wolves Super League match
Matty Russell’s Wolves debut. Club historians believe him to be the first Scottish-born player to represent the first team. Russell was born in Irvine.
The four-try haul is Rhys Evans’ first for Wolves in the top grade
Ryan Atkins’ two late tries against London were his first of the season
Chris Bridge is one try away from celebrating a career century of touchdowns. He is also the current player with the highest number of consecutive appearances, 16
Super League Round 4, Sunday, March 9, 2014
London Broncos...16 Warrington Wolves...44
Broncos: Ben Farrar; Jordan Atkins, Mason Caton-Brown, Thomas Minns, Jamie O'Callaghan; James Cunningham, Mike Bishay; Nick Slyney, Scott Moore, Olsi Krasniqi, Alex Foster, Mike McMeeken, Matt Cook. Subs: Carl Forster, George Griffin, Illiess Macani, Denny Solomona.
Wolves: Stefan Ratchford; Rhys Evans, Chris Bridge, Ryan Atkins, Gene Ormsby; Gareth O’Brien, Richie Myler; Chris Hill, Michael Monaghan, Roy Asotasi, Ben Westwood, Trent Waterhouse, Ben Currie. Subs: Matty Russell, Glenn Riley, James Laithwaite, Ben Evans.
Scoring: Asotasi try, 3mins, Ratchford goal, 0-6; Slyney try, 9mins, Bishay goal, 6-6; Farrar try, 17mins, Bishay goal, 12-6; Minns try, 25mins, Bishay, 16-6; Bridge try, 27mins, 16-10; Rhys Evans try, 35mins, 16-14; Ormsby try, 47mins, Ratchford goal, 16-20; Rhys Evans try, 49mins, 16-24; Ryan Atkins try, 68mins, Ratchford goal, 16-30; Rhys Evans try, 72mins, Ratchford goal, 16-36; Rhys Evans try, 77mins, 16-40; Ryan Atkins try, 80mins, 16-44.
Pens: Broncos 7 Wolves 4
Referee: Matt Thomason
Wolves’ Top Man: Chris Hill