NODS and winks were plentiiful as supporters left The Halliwell Jones Stadium after Friday’s crushing of Catalan Dragons.
A collective sigh of relief was audible, along with utterings of ‘That’s better!’ The crash at Castleford followed by the hammer blow at Bradford, not to mention the last horrible home Super League fall to Hull KR, meant some faith and respect needed restoring.
And while the performance was far from error free and one swallow does not make a rugby league summer, Tony Smith’s men provided some optimism, gave an insight into this new-look team’s true capabilities and hopefully highlighted that this season is far from over as they moved into seventh place.
Much could be said about Dragons’ lack of fire - surprising as it was after four successive Super League wins - but Wolves should be credited for their part in that.
Such intensity in the earliest defensive sets not seen so far this season gave Dragons no room to breathe, and then when Wolves started to spray the ball the larger visiting pack did not appear to fancy being given the runaround.
Chris Hill, Trent Waterhouse and Michael Monaghan bossed the show on a night when Catalan’s players could have been forgiven for thinking previous bouts of poor kicking, failures to execute moves and sloppy defence would come back to haunt Wolves.
Not on this occasion.
Pressure was built as repeat sets were achieved from the much improved tactical kicking of Chris Bridge and Michael Monaghan, eyecatching tries were scored and only one penalty (compared to four at Bradford) was given away for obstruction while in possession. Also the French attack was resisted for 65 minutes as a 42-0 lead was assembled.
Smith said having some of his more experienced men back in the starting 13 - namely Stefan Ratchford and Ben Harrison - was a contributing factor to the improved showing.
And Ratchford, forming with Bridge this year’s sixth half-back combination, showed the way with a stunning break from a runaround link with Anthony England - a move that eventually led to Joel Monaghan’s 100th try on his 100th appearance.
Confidence was sky high after that and hopefully it can continue and bring some consistency.
Most points Wolves have scored in a home win against Catalan Dragons, the haul of 44 beating the previous best of 40
Joel Monaghan’s two tries were his 100th and 101st for the club on his 100th appearance
James Laithwaite’s first try at senior level for Warrington. He scored a Super League try against Hull while on loan with Hull KR in 2012
The attendance was second lowest of season at The Halliwell Jones Stadium, narrowly beating the 8,778 against Hull KR on April 11
Chris Bridge is on a run of seven tries in his last four appearances. He has also kicked 18 of his last 21 attempts at goal, including all seven against Catalan
Chris Hill is the only ever present member of the 2014 squad, having played in all 14 Super League and Challenge Cup games so far
Ryan Atkins’ next try will be the 150th of his professional career in club and representative rugby
Super League Round 12, Friday, May 9
Warrington Wolves...42 Catalan Dragons...10
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 Harrison.
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.
Scoring: Joel Monaghan try, 18mins, Bridge goal, 6-0; England try, 23mins, Bridge goal, 12-0; Joel Monaghan try, 32mins, Bridge goal, 18-0; Ratchford try, 40+mins, Bridge goal, 24-0; Bridge try, 41mins, Bridge goal, 30-0; Higham try, 45mins, Bridge goal, 36-0; Laithwaite try, 55mins, Bridge goal, 42-0; Duport try, 65mins, Barthau goal, 42-6; Escare try, 80+mins, 42-10.
Referee: James Child
Penalties: Wolves 8 Dragons 4
Top Man: Chris Bridge