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Spirit of 55 reflects on Warrington Wolves' win against Salford City Reds
9:33am Monday 7th May 2012 in Wolves news
GOING into a game without your first choice full back, half backs and hooker, you could expect a performance lacking in creativity, organisation and direction.
For large chunks of this game, that is exactly what Wire produced.
Ultimately it was only the excellent goal kicking of O’Brien that got the win.
Against a decent Salford side who might just sneak into the top eight, but are highly unlikely to be a threat in the play-offs should they get there, a more comfortable home win would have been expected by most Wire fans.
A look at the team sheet might have lessened those expectations somewhat, along with the pivotal position players of Brett Hodgson, Lee Briers, Richie Myler and Michael Monaghan, other established players Ben Westwood, Adrian Morley and Chris Bridge were also missing.
Just how many of those absentees were down to having one eye on the tough Challenge Cup quarter final in France next weekend only Mr Smith can say for sure.
It was probably the first home game all season when I didn’t feel I quite got full value for my 20 quid.
In the first half in particular the play was so conservative that it even had the Wire faithful begging the ball to be thrown around, even those who have been critical of the team for overplaying earlier in the season.
Anytime they did shift it wide they looked dangerous, especially when getting the ball to Ryan Atkins who created both Warrington’s tries of the first half with excellent, orthodox centre play to allow Rhys Williams to score twice.
Overall performance will ultimately effect the scoreboard, but there is also no getting away from the fact that the scoreboard often affects performance.
Salford’s interception try came just at the right time for them, to make the score 6-6 and keep their spirits up, giving them something to fight for, a spirit that might have been broken had the score gone to 12 or 18-nil early on.
Also the closeness on the scoreboard seemed to inhibit the inexperienced Wolves team that was missing so many of its natural leaders.
The second half wasn’t a great deal better, but there did seem to be an improvement in the urgency of the team to increase the tempo of their play.
Most pleasingly there seemed to be a collective acceptance of responsibility to correct the lack of creativity and organisation from the first half, rather than waiting around for one or two players to do all of that for them.
Another positive was that Ben Currie looks to be the latest in the line of young players who is more than capable of establishing himself at Super League level.
A late flurry by Salford made for a jittery finish.
Wire did manage to hold on for the win despite a collective brain explosion with 30 seconds left when they turned down the option of kicking for goal, an option that would’ve run down the clock and finished the game – if I was a coach this would be one of the very few instances where my philosophy would permit my team to kick a penalty goal.
Overall it looked like one of those performances when a team tries to do just enough to win.
In previous years Warrington have often slipped up with performances like this and done just enough to lose.
Not a great game or performance by any means, but those two points might just end up being the difference between having home advantage in a playoff semi final and not.