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SPIRIT OF 55; Packmen the real heroes of quarter-final success
6:10am Monday 14th May 2012 in Wolves news
WARRINGTON clearly knew they had to be a lot better in certain aspects of their performance than they had been on the same pitch in a league game a month or so ago.
That game had ended in an embarrassing defeat, this one ended in a most impressive triumph.
Warrington became the first team to beat the Dragons in France this year and the first team to ever beat them in that stadium in the Challenge Cup.
Catalan looked stunned and bemused by the way Warrington beat them, by overpowering, outenthusing and outplaying their pack down the middle.
Rarely did the French team get up that head of steam that they thrive on, which results in quick play-the-balls and putting the opposition on the back foot which in turn allows that head of steam to become like an unstoppable runaway train.
The speed of Warrington’s defence line took that space off them, that space that they so love to run into.
Although still far from the performance the team are capable of - and searching for - it was a performance that meant the gamble to rest so many players last week more than paid off.
In particular, a crazy spell at the start of the second half saw both teams playing with the ball as if it was a poisoned chalice.
Also Warrington’s penalty count was probably at least double what they would class as an acceptable amount.
Despite all those errors the team had a focus, determination and control about them that meant they never really looked like losing.
When the quarter-final draw was made I don’t think I was alone in thinking that was as tough a draw as they could’ve got, so any win was going to be a good one.
It’s still far from out of the question that Wire might have to return to France in the play-offs and if so the memories of this performance and result will be of great benefit to them.
As ever, Briers and Hodgson in particular always looked likely to create tries and Riley and Joel Monaghan always looked likely to finish them off.
I’m sure all of them would quickly acknowledge that the real heroes and architects of this victory were in the pack.
Even without Morley the club still have plenty of options in the prop position, all capable of defending soundly as well as giving the team great go forward, while Grix showed his fantastic versatility by offering yet another option at hooker in the continued absence of Michael Monaghan.
As they always seem to do, the back rowers Westwood, Waterhouse, Harrison and McCarthy brought impressive energy and work rate to the team and led them in one particular aspect of the performance that, although only considered a small part of the game, might well have had a big influence on the scoreboard. That aspect is putting plenty of pressure on Catalan kicker Scott Dureau, who by the end of the game must have been dreading his turn to kick the ball.
Another game played this season, more lessons learned and confidences built. All three trophies still available to the Wire, still in position for a great season but so much more Rugby League still to be played.
Spirit of 55