WOLVES fans could have been forgiven for thinking ‘here we go again’ after the first 10 minutes of Wolves’ eventual defeat of ‘derby’ rivals Widnes Vikings on Thursday.
The similarities between the start of this match and the bitterly disappointing loss to Saints a week earlier were all too apparent, with Wolves failing to get hold of the ball in the early stages and their usually tight line defence letting in two Widnes tries that could have been prevented.
But unlike against Saints, Wolves had the firepower and wherewithal to get themselves back on the front foot after their shaky start, and once Widnes’ energy began to sap away there was only ever going to be one winner.
That turning point came as Tony Smith was forced into a rare appearance at pitchside while Brett Hodgson converted Chris Bridge’s opening try, with the Wolves boss slamming the ‘slow’ pace and ‘messy ruck areas’ that forced the mid-game changes.
In the build-up to the match there was concern that Wolves’ younger looking side would struggle in much the same way that Wigan’s weakened squad did against Vikings earlier this season.
The fact Widnes were forced to name a side much weakened by injury made this unlikely, while Wolves’ young players, who were attempting to earn a future spot in the side, worked hard in order to make the most of this rare opportunity at Super League level.
Smith is keen to instal a strong defensive discipline into his young charges, something that Ben Currie was focused on during his 80-minute stint, while Brad Dwyer, too, drew praise from Smith for his tackle count after the game.
It was also no surprise to see Gareth O’Brien shine alongside Richie Myler in the halves, with the young playmaker looking assured as he guided Wolves around the pitch.
Wolves’ first Super League win against Widnes since August 2005, when Wolves’ win doomed their ‘derby’ rivals to the Championship.
The Maundy Thursday attendance of 12,042 was the biggest for a Warrington Wolves versus Widnes Vikings home game since the Challenge Cup quarter final at Wilderspool in March 1978 – 34 years ago, which attracted a crowd of 14,555.
Promising under 20s back rower Ben Currie made an 80-minute debut appearance. The last player to make a debut appearance in this fixture was a 17-year-old Chris Riley in August, 2005.
Brad Dwyer scored his first Super League try.
Round 10: April 5, 2012 Warrington Wolves...46 Widnes Vikings...12
Brett Hodgson; Chris Riley, Joel Monaghan, Ryan Atkins, Rhys Williams; Gareth O’Brien, Richie Myler; Chris Hill, Micky Higham, Garreth Carvell, Ben Currie, Ben Westwood, Chris Bridge. Subs: Mike Cooper, Brad Dwyer, Paul Wood, Tyrone McCarthy.
Cameron Phelps; Paddy Flynn, Chris Dean, Willie Isa, Patrick Ah Van; Danny Craven, Rhys Hanbury; John Kite, Scott Moore, Hep Cahill, David Allen, Simon Finnigan, Magruff Leuluai. Subs: Lloyd White, Ben Cross, Kurt Haggerty, Alex Gerrard.
Dean try, 3mins, Ah Van goal, 0-6; Allen try, 9mins, Ah Van goal, 0-12; Bridge try, 21mins, Hodgson goal, 6-12; Bridge try, 24mins, Hodgson goal, 12-12; Riley try, 29mins, Hodgson goal, 18-12; Hodgson try, 53mins, Hodgson goal, 24-12; Atkins try, 57mins, Hodgson goal, 30-12; Dwyer try, 73mins, Hodgson goal, 36-12; Riley try, 77mins, Hodgson goal, 42-12; Riley try, 80mins, 46-12.
Wolves 11 Widnes 8