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GUARDIAN VERDICT: Widnes Vikings 14 Warrington Wolves 52
Stefan Ratchford gave Widnes problems until he was forced off at half time with an injury. Pictures by Mike Boden
THERE were bigger games on Wolves’ horizon and that was obvious from the first minute of this ‘derby’ clash.
Widnes flew out of the traps while Wolves, much like the match against Huddersfield Giants a week earlier, were sluggish in the opening exchanges.
There were also signs that players were a bit tentative, with one eye on the approaching play-off opener against St Helens, particularly in the first half.
But ultimately none of that really mattered, as the gulf in class between Wolves and the wooden-spoon winners meaning that even a below-par Warrington side broke the 50-point barrier for the second week running.
Widnes fought bravely but struggled under the sheer weight of errors they made with the ball, with dropped and missed passes countering the hard work they put in and allowing Wolves off the hook whenever they made a mistake of their own.
Until he limped off with a knee injury at the break, Stefan Ratchford showed why he will be a fine replacement for Brett Hodgson whenever the experienced Aussie hangs up his boots, with Ratchford’s intelligence and attacking flair from full back carving Widnes open almost at will.
Richie Myler had a fine game and was Wolves’ other main attacking threat along with Micky Higham.
Higham again showed how valuable he has been this season, capping another solid performance at hooker with two well-deserved tries and probing Widnes’ defence from dummy half.
Finally, David Solomona’s try and late goal capped off what was potentially the second row’s final game for Wolves after three seasons with the club.
The try and the goal, which was booted over in the final minute, were a fitting tribute for a player who has provided Wolves fans with three years of joy, and his magical handling skills are sure to be missed by everyone in primrose and blue
Lee Briers needs two more tries for 150 in Wolves matches.
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 him reach a century of touchdowns for Warrington.
Chris Riley’s first try against Widnes Vikings on Sunday was the 100th try of the winger’s career, and the Wolves flyer will also make his 150th career appearance if he plays on Saturday.
Micky Higham needs one try to reach a career century of touchdowns.
Super League Round 27
Sunday, September 8.
Vikings: Jack Owens; Paddy Flynn, Chris Dean, Cameron Phelps, Willie Isa; Joe Mellor, Rhys Hanbury; Ben Davies, Jon Clarke, Steve Pickersgill, Frank Winterstein, Dave Allen, Kurt Haggerty. Subs: Ben Kavanagh, Macgruff Leuluai, Alex Gerrard, Paul McShane.
Wolves: Stefan Ratchford; Chris Riley, Chris Bridge, Ryan Atkins, Rhys Williams; Lee Briers, Richie Myler, Paul Wood, Micky Higham, Chris Hill, Tyrone McCarthy, Simon Grix, Ben Harrison. Subs: Adrian Morley, Michael Cooper, Matty Blythe, David Solomona.
Scoring: Winterstein try, 5mins, Hanbury goal, 6-0; Higham try, 11mins, Briers goal, 6-6; Williams try, 20mins, 6-10; Riley try, 29mins, 6-14; Ratchford try, 34mins, 6-18; Solomona try, 38mins, 6-22; Riley try, 43mins, Briers goal, 6-28; McShane try, 45mins, 10-28; Hill try, 57mins, Briers goal, 10-34; Higham try, 66mins, Briers goal, 10-40; Hanbury try, 71mins, 14-40; Atkins try, 76mins, Briers goal, 14-46; Wood try, 79mins, Solomona goal,14-52.
Pens: Widnes 4 Wolves 5
Referee: Steve Ganson
Star man: Richie Myler