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SPIRIT OF 55: Attitude and desire to defend in abundance
5:58pm Thursday 12th July 2012 in Wolves news
CONTESTS with Catalan often have the physicality of a boxing match, this was the third ‘bout’ between the two teams this season.
The first game was the equivalent of a devastating knock-out in Catalan's favour, Warrington produced their own knock-out in the challenge cup quarter final, this contest would have to be classed as a brutally fought out points win for the Wire.
There’s still a strong possibility they could meet at least one more time this season in the play-offs.
Unlike football, some of the best Rugby League games can occur when the defences outperform the attacks.
Whether a connoisseur of the game with many years of watching experience or someone taking a look at the game for the first time, you must have been impressed by much of what you saw at the Halliwell Jones Stadium on Monday night.
It is said that ninety percent of defence is about attitude and desire, both teams showed that in abundance.
There were times when Catalans made breaks, particularly in the second half, but to keep a highly motivated side with the quality of Catalans to just one try was a great reflection of the desperation the Wire players showed to protect their line.
Two stand out examples of such desire would be Ratchford’s last ditch cover tackle that just caused the Catalan’s player’s left boot to touch the touchline just before placing the ball down on the try line, and Atkins racing across as an auxiliary full back after a break had been made, allowing him to be in perfect position to catch a cross field kick and snuff out another scoring opportunity for the French side.
These are just two examples of many great moments of scrambling defence.
It was one of those games where neither side seemed to have a weak defender, someone the opposition could target and get success from playing towards.
It’s performances like this that really hammer home just how much you believe in your team mates and how much you rely on each other for success.
In amongst all the fantastic defence there was the brilliant team try that was finished off by Atkins.
A classic example of something good coming out of something going ‘wrong’ for the attacking team.
This comes about because it often means something has also gone wrong for the defence, because the break in pattern has requires them to change their own pattern and this can be so difficult if the attack play with speed.
To start with O’Brien was caught on the last tackle, his planned kick option was taken away from him by excellent pressure from Catalan’s defenders.
Wire are almost forced into keeping the ball alive, in quick succession Morley, Westwood and Harrison all revert back to the simple basics of Rugby league attack, run at a gap until a defender commits to you, then pass to your nearest mate.
This results in Atkins getting the ball in a little bit of space, but such was the quality of defence all night that Atkins must have felt he was in Oceans of space by comparison to the rest of the match.
From there a perfectly weighted kicked and enthusiastic and speedy chase did the rest to finish off a brilliant try.
As preparations for a challenge cup semi final go, physically it perhaps wasn’t the best, a smashathon against one of the biggest and toughest sides in the league, but mentally I think it would have been the perfect preparation for them.
Their belief in their ability to battle for success in a big match can only have been increased by this performance.
Spirit of 55