SPIRITED Wolves cut free from some poor form to deliver one of their most impressive performances of the season so far against Catalan Dragons.
On the back of Super League losses at Castleford Tigers and rock-bottom Bradford Bulls, a ‘switched on’ Wolves ended Les Catalans’ four-match winning streak in good style.
Tony Smith’s men shut out their usually enterprising French visitors for 65 minutes, while entertaining a crowd of 8,816 with some super tries in each half.
Two Joel Monaghan tries, the first one being his 100th in 100 appearances for the club, plus further efforts from Anthony England and Stefan Ratchford were all converted by Chris Bridge for a 24-0 half-time lead, with additional converted tries from Bridge, Micky Higham and James Laithwaite taking Wolves out of reach before two late replies.
While the performance was not without mistakes, including knock-ons from kick offs and penalties conceded for obstruction while in possession, the players’ commitment, determination and hunger was clear for all to see.
There was some smart stuff too, with kicks forcing repeat sets and a 40-20 success.
Eager defence and a willingness to throw the ball around in order to make a hefty Dragons pack work overtime proved to be great tactics.
It was a try-saving tackle from Rhys Evans as Michael Oldfield attempted to cross in the corner that led to a set of possession for Wolves’ opening try in fine style in the 18th minute.
Stefan Ratchford, forming the team’s sixth half-back combination of the year with Bridge, made the initial break inside his own half and kicked ahead for Gene Ormsby, who regathered and made a further determined 20 metres before being put down.
His quick play-the-ball allowed Bridge’s fast hands to put unmarked centre Joel Monaghan over for his milestone try.
Bridge potted the conversion beautifully from the touchline and he was called upon again five minutes later to add the extras to England’s try after the prop picked up a loose ball that had deflected off a Catalan player who had got in the way of Michael Monaghan’s dummy-half pass.
It soon got even better with a sensational second try from Joel Monaghan, all starting from a Chris Hill offload deep inside Warrington territory.
Matty Russell sniffed out a gap, hared away and as the cover came across his reverse flick pass allowed Ormsby to continue the move and then hand on to Joel to finish off. Bridge improved the try from in front of the sticks for 18-0 after 32 minutes.
Warrington maintained the pressure through a smart Bridge kick forcing a drop out and after some hefty driving from Roy Asotasi Ratchford spotted a hole from first receiver and stepped his way through three tackles to cross. Bridge maintained his 100 percent record with the boot.
The second half could not have started better, with a Ben Evans charge-down falling nicely for Laithwaite to swoop and send Bridge home from 30 metres. Again Bridge goaled to make it 30-0 after 41 minutes.
Ben Evans was at the heart of things again four minutes later, with his pass before the defensive line allowing Hill to gallop clear and he found Higham in support to go over by the sticks for Bridge to easily add his sixth goal.
Laithwaite showed great strength to force his way over for his first try in Warrington colours from a tap penalty in the 55th minute and again Bridge knocked over the two bonus points as Wolves stretched 42-0 clear.
Wolves kept their clean sheet until the 65th minute when Vincent Duport charged on to a long pass from Leon Pryce and fended off Ormsby to cross in the corner, with William Barthau adding the conversion from the touchline.
Morgan Escare won the race to his own chip kick for the final score, but he had collected the ball from an offside position initially.
Wolves: Matty Russell; Gene Ormsby, Joel Monaghan, Ryan Atkins, Rhys Evans; Chris Bridge, Stefan Ratchford; Chris Hill, Michael Monaghan, Anthony England, James Laithwaite, Trent Waterhouse, Ben Harrison. Subs: Micky Higham, Roy Asotasi, Ben Currie, Ben Evans.
Dragons: Morgan Escare; Michael Oldfield, Ben Pomeroy, Vincent Duport, Daryl Millard; Leon Pryce, William Barthau; Jeff Lima, Eloi Pelissier, Mickael Simon, Zeb Taia, Louis Anderson, Jason Baitieri. Subs: Antoni Maria, Lopini Paea, Benjamin Garcia, Joan Guasch.
Referee: James Child