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GUARDIAN VERDICT: Warrington Wolves 54 Huddersfield Giants 6
Brett Hodgson produced another man-of-the-match performance against his former club. Pictures by Mike Boden
THE clichés state that Warrington should have lost this game.
A hard-fought Challenge Cup victory against excellent opponents and the subsequent celebrations that stretched from Saturday night into the start of the following week meant that energy and skill levels should have too low to craft a win.
But while the term ‘after the lord mayor’s show’ could be used to describe Wolves’ performance in the opening half, they were far from below par after the break.
Handling errors and rusty attacking moves were replaced with superb skill, support play and passing that had Giants grasping at thin air as the hosts racked up 38 points without reply.
This was helped by Huddersfield shrinking from the game as quickly as Wolves grew into it, with Giants’ stamina and will to defend their line disappearing like a puff of smoke in the late summer breeze.
Smith admitted after the match that his side had started like a team who had been celebrating yet another cup victory for the first few days of the week, but while that may explain Wolves’ scrappy start it did not match up with the effort and defensive strength that Warrington showed throughout.
Giants were almost unable to venture into Wolves’ half in the second period and most of their attacks were halted with barely any territorial gain, such was the aggression and consistency of the Warrington’s effort.
This was without Ben Westwood and half back general Lee Briers , too, as Richie Myler and Stefan Ratchford enjoyed one of their best games together in the middle of the park and Simon Grix moved in seamlessly to partner the seemingly tireless Trent Waterhouse in the second row.
Brett Hodgson continued his unplayable form, and it is likely the 34-year-old Aussie will be rested for the match against Widnes in order to keep him in the form that will be so crucial if Wolves are to match the ambitions of their players and fans by winning the cup and Grand Final double.
Lee Briers needs two more tries for 150 in Wolves matches.
Warrington have won their last five meetings (two away from home) with Widnes, with the Vikings' last victory coming 31-10 at home on 6 June, 2004.
Brett Hodgson needs 19 points to reach 1,000 while in the British game and needs only one more appearance to reach the 100 mark while in the British game (51 for Huddersfield, 46 for Warrington and 2 for The Exiles).
Ben Westwood needs one appearance to reach 350 for his career and three more tries will also see Westwood reach a century of touchdowns for Warrington.
Ryan Atkins’ try against Huddersfield brought up his 100th point of the season for Wolves.
Super League Round 26
Sunday, September 2
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, Paul 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.
Scoring: Monaghan try, 18mins, Hodgson goal, 6-0; Grix try, 31mins, Grix goal, 6-6; Bridge try, 34mins, 10-6; Ratchford try, 37mins, Hodgson goal, 16-6; Myler try, 52mins, Hodgson goal, 22-6; Hodgson try, 59mins, Hodgson goal, 28-6; Williams try, 68mins, Hodgson goal, 34-6; Atkins try, 70mins, Hodgson goal, 40-6; Monghan try, 73mins, 44-6; Monaghan try, 76mins, 48-6; Hill try, 80mins, Hodgson goal, 54-6.
Pens: Wolves 7 Giants 7
Referee: George Stokes
Top man: Brett Hodgson