Text us your news! Start your message Warrington News and send any photos or videos to 80360
FULL TIME: Warrington Wolves 15 Catalan Dragons 6
Congratulations for Ryan Atkins after his second-half try put Wolves 10-0 ahead. Pictures by Mike Boden
WOLVES’ outstanding defence earned them two crucial Super League points against table-top rivals Catalan Dragons.
The win puts a three-point gap between second-placed Wolves and third-placed Catalan in pursuit of a top-two finish that guarantees a home run in the play-offs.
On a night when Wolves’ attack struggled to fire at its fiercest against decent French resistance, it was encouraging to see that their defence was equal to the majority of what was thrown at them.
Some smart thinking from replacement hooker Michael Monaghan eventually settled the outcome.
Trent Robinson’s men, who have snatched late wins at St Helens and Hull KR this year, did not look finished at 12-6 down with 13 minutes to go.
Monaghan slotted a drop goal to put the all-important seven-point barrier between the sides to send Wolves into Sunday’s Challenge Cup semi final against Huddersfield on a winning note.
Wolves applied all the pressure early in the game and finally broke the deadlock in the 14th minute.
It was a scrappy effort, with Ben Harrison having the ball knocked out of his hands by Ian Henderson as he tried to stretch out to score but Ben Westwood was on hand to pick up the pieces. Brett Hodgson added the conversion.
For all of Wolves’ endeavours and territorial advantage though, they could not break down Catalan again in the first half.
Without Lee Briers and some disruption to the plans with 18th man Stefan Ratchford coming into the side as the chief playmaker’s late replacement, Wolves lacked the execution that the approach work and big-hitting defence from the pack deserved.
On the back of a 40/20 from Catalan scrum half Scott Dureau, the visitors came back strongly in the last 10 minutes of the half.
But Wolves’ defence was up to the job, holding out on their try line for four successive sets at one stage.
A succession of penalties conceded at the start of the second half left Wolves with more defending to do and they did live dangerously for a while.
Chris Riley cleverly got his body between the ball and the ground when winger Damien Blanch got over the line in the 42nd minute.
And Ratchford just did enough as the last covering defender to force Damien Cardace to put a foot on the touchline before diving over on the opposite flank two minutes later.
Wolves’ fans could see their heroes were desperately hanging on and ramped up the noise levels in encouragement.
It seemed to work because on Wolves’ next attack they scored after a Chris Bridge break put them on a roll.
The ball was kept alive and some swift handling on the right by Hodgson, Westwood and Harrison gave England centre Ryan Atkins enough space to dab a kick behind full back Clint Greenshields and beat the Australian to the touch.
Hodgson hit the post from the touchline with his goal attempt but Wolves had a little breathing space at 10-0 after 52 minutes.
That cushion was soon wiped out though when Steve Menzies switched the direction of attack and his smart pass found the angled run of Jason Baitieri exploding through the tackles of Bridge and Harrison. Dureau’s extras cut the gap to four points after 60 minutes.
A high tackle on Michael Monaghan by David Ferriol presented a penalty 20 metres out and Hodgson handed the ball to Gareth O’Brien who duly fired the ball home to make it 12-6 with 13 minutes remaining.
That was the cue for Michael Monaghan’s drop goal and a penalty from Hodgson in injury time wrapped it up.
Wolves: Brett Hodgson; Joel Monaghan, Chris Bridge, Ryan Atkins, Chris Riley; Stefan Ratchford, Gareth O’Brien; Garreth Carvell, Micky Higham, Chris Hill, Trent Waterhouse, Ben Westwood, Ben Harrison. Subs: Adrian Morley, Mike Cooper, Michael Monaghan, Tyrone McCarthy.
Dragons: Clint Greenshields; Damien Blanch, Daryl Millard, Vincent Duport, Damien Cardace; Leon Pryce, Scott Dureau; David Ferriol, Ian Henderson, Remi Casty, Steve Menzies, Lopini Paea, Jason Baitieri. Subs: Greg Mounis, Sebastien Raguin, Eloi Pelissier, Jamal Fakir.
Referee: James Child.