COMPOSURE and adaptability were again at the heart of Wolves’ performance as they made it three successive wins in Super League XIX.
When they trailed 16-6 in 20 degrees heat at London Broncos in round four, Wolves did not allow panic to set in and they were able to get a grip to run out 44-16 victors.
They achieved that without two of their most experienced players, Micky Higham and Joel Monaghan.
At freezing cold Salford, five days later, they had three tries ruled out for lost possession in the opening 11 minutes but stuck to their guns in a controlled and confident manner that led to Wolves establishing a 16-0 lead by the 30th minute.
That occurred with this season’s star performer so far, Trent Waterhouse, missing from an entirely reshuffled back-row formation.
The platform for building Friday night’s winning position – after Tim Smith had knocked on from the kick off - was tenacious defence, enabling Wolves to keep Salford in their own half for the opening 12 minutes and piling up considerable pressure.
Although Salford defended their own line superbly early on, those considerable efforts took their toll as they lacked sting and at times took wrong options in attack through resulting tiredness.
At the heart of all of this were powerful performances by second rowers Simon Grix and James Laithwaite, as well as Ben Westwood playing like an extra prop at loose forward.
Chris Hill also continued his good form from the London win, while Chris Bridge and Richie Myler were threatening with the ball while also being kept busy in defence.
There was some good fortune about tries by Bridge (19mins) and Gene Ormsby (30mins) with favourable bounces fromGareth O'Brien kicks, but Wolves had earned it.
The other three tries from Micky Higham (19mins), Joel Monaghan (52mins) and Roy Asotasi (68mins) were well worked from within 20 metres of the Salford line, showing continuing improvement by Wolves in that area of their game.
And Salford found no way through the middle of Wolves’ defence, with their three unconverted tries arriving by going around the outside – one after a smart last-gasp offload by former Melbourne Storm centre Junior Sa’u and the other two from creating numerical advantage on the flanks.
Wolves boss Tony Smith was rightly pleased by the night’s work.
Wolves’ third win on the bounce
Chris Bridge’s 100th career try - his 90th for Wolves
Ryan Atkins’ 200th Super League appearance, his 112th for Wolves
Super League Round 5, Friday March 14, 2014
Salford Red Devils 12 Warrington Wolves 28
Red Devils: Jake Mullaney; Greg Johnson, Jason Walton, Junior Sa’u, Dominic Manfredi; Theo Fages, Tim Smith; Adrian Morley, Tommy Lee, Lama Tasi, Matty Ashurst, Andrew Dixon, Harrison Hansen. Subs: Martin Gleeson, Tony Puletua, Shannan McPherson, Jordan Walne.
Wolves: Stefan Ratchford; Joel Monaghan, Chris Bridge, Ryan Atkins, Gene Ormsby; Gareth O’Brien, Richie Myler; Chris Hill, Micky Higham, Roy Asotasi, James Laithwaite, Simon Grix, Ben Westwood. Subs: Michael Monaghan, Matty Russell, Glenn Riley, Ben Evans.
Scoring: Bridge try, 19mins, 0-4; Higham try, 23mins, Ratchford goal, 0-10; Ormsby try, 30mins, Ratchford goal, 0-16; Manfredi try, 33mins, 4-16; Joel Monaghan try, 52mins, Ratchford goal, 4-22; Manfredi try, 66mins, 8-22; Asotasi try, 68mins, Ratchford goal, 8-28; Johnson try, 12-28, 75mins.
Referee: Ben Thaler
Penalties: Red Devils 6 Wolves 8
Top Man: Simon Grix