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FULL TIME, PICTURES ADDED: Warrington Wolves 54 Huddersfield Giants 6
Joel Monaghan scored a hat-trick in Wolves' comfortable victory against Huddersfield. Pictures by Mike Boden
WARRINGTON Wolves produced a dominant second-half performance to obliterate a weak Huddersfield side and issue a warning to their rivals ahead of the rapidly approaching play-offs.
Tony Smith’s side shook off a hit-and-miss first half showing riddled with errors to open some breathing space with tries from Joel Monaghan, Chris Bridge and Stefan Ratchford before the break. Smith’s men then emerged in the second half with renewed energy, taking control of the ball and pummelling Giants into submission with a barrage of tries from Richie Myler, Brett Hodgson, Rhys Williams, Ryan Atkins, Chris Hill and a further brace from hat-trick hero Joel Monaghan.
After a rusty opening to the game Wolves finally got off the mark in the 18th minute, putting their scrappy start behind them with a try that had an air of familiarity about it. Chris Hill’s break and offload found Stefan Ratchford in support, and the former Salford stand off spotted a huge gap on the right wing to lift a perfect kick for Joel Monaghan to catch and drop over. It had all the same hallmarks of Wolves’ first try at Wembley, with Brett Hodgson adding the tough touchline conversion to hand his side a 6-0 lead.
But that was really where the likeness to last week’s final ended, as Wolves seemed to have little of the intensity they showed against Leeds in London. The mistakes continued, Trent Waterhouse bombing a chance with a poor offload after a penalty for a high shot had taken Wolves within striking distance of Huddersfield’s line.
Luckily for Wolves Giants weren’t much better. Matt Dawson missed a pass with the try line beckoning on the left wing, before making amends minutes later with an excellent try-saving tackle on Joel Monaghan as the winger scorched up the wing.
Scott Grix was the brightest spark for Giants in the first half and was a deserving scorer of the visitors’ only try before the break. His majestic 40/20 put Giants on the front foot and they did not waste the opportunity, with Grix taking the ball in front of the posts and finding a huge gap between the napping Paul Wood and Garreth Carvell to saunter over. He converted his own try to almost singlehandedly drag his side back into the contest.
Wolves were starting to warm up as the half time hooter approached, leading to two further tries to open a comfortable lead at the turnaround. First Chris Bridge was the beneficiary of some lightening passes and brilliant running, ghosting over on the right to give Hodgson a tricky goal attempt that the accomplished kicker could not convert.
Then Ratchford played a huge part in Wolves’ next try, as he was put through the line by a well-timed Michael Monaghan pass and scorched up the field to put his side in position. A few play the balls later he was able to reap the rewards of that break, scooping up the ball and dropping over next to the posts after Richie Myler’s grubber had bounced kindly off the posts. Hodgson converted to give Wolves a 16-6 lead at the break.
Warrington picked up where they left off, spending most of the opening 10 minutes of the half camped in Huddersfield territory. Grix had the first sniff of the line when bombing a pass on 43 minutes, but Huddersfield were offering little in the way of a threat and it was little surprise when Wolves extended their lead on 53 minutes. Myler was the eventual scorer after Hodgson’s break had moved Wolves into position, with the full back’s offload finding Atkins in support. The strong-running centre weaved his way through defenders before flicking the ball to Myler, who sprinted around the defence to drop over on the left. Hodgson added the extras.
Last week’s man of the match Hodgson was having another assured match at the back, and was even able to add a trademark try to stretch Wolves’ lead to 28-6 on the hour mark. Rhys Williams’ brilliant break up the wing was stopped agonisingly short of the Giants line, but Wolves were good enough to take advantage of the visitor’s disorganised defence. Whipping the ball right, Hodgson chimed in and executed a trademark dummy and dive to score his 10th try of the season and his second in as many games.
Huddersfield had let their heads drop as Wolves piled the points on, leading to the host’s most profitable part of the game as they added three more tries in the space of five minutes. First Rhys Williams benefitted from the passes of Hodgson and Atkins to cross in the corner, before Atkins unleashed his power and pace to charge through attempted tackles on his way to the line. Finally Monaghan added his second of the game to heap further misery on the lacklustre Giants, with lightening quick handling whipping the ball to the right edge for the Aussie winger to finish in typical style. Hodgson added two goals to make the score 44-6 after 75 minutes.
But there was still time for Wolves to add a further two tries to complete one of the most dominant second half performances seen at the Halliwell Jones Stadum this season. Joel Monaghan scored his 27th try of the season and his hat-trick effort in an exact duplicate of his second try, the ball moving right at speed and his trademark dive over in the corner. Then Chris Hill added the icing on the cake, breaking free through a tired Huddersfield line and crossing between the posts to break the 50-point barrier in the final minutes of the game. Hodgson added the extras, and Wolves finished with a dominant 54-6 scoreline.
Wolves: Brett Hodgson; Joel Monaghan, Chris Bridge, Ryan Atkins, Rhys Williams; Stefan Ratchford, Richie Myler, Adrian Morley , Michael Monaghan, Chris Hill, Simon Grix , Trent Waterhouse, Ben Harrison . Subs: Micky Higham, Pau l Wood, Garreth Carvell, Matty Blythe .
Giants: Greg Eden; Aaron Murphy, Leroy Cudjoe, Joe Wardle, Matt Dawson; Scott Grix, Tommy Lee, Keith Mason, Luke Robinson, David Fa’alogo, Brett Ferres, Jason Chan, Michael Lawrence. Subs: Eorl Crabtree, Larne Patrick, Jamie Cording, Scott Moore.