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GUARDIAN VERDICT: Warrington Wolves 6 St Helens 28
SAINTS obviously did not read the script on this one.
The rhetoric from everyone at the club in the week leading up to Wolves’ opening play-off fixture suggested that they were ready to show a level of performance that would propel them all the way to Old Trafford.
Flying in the face of everything Wolves fans have learned from the many, mostly painful, fixtures against their near rivals, it was going to be different this time.
But far from producing the intensity, skill and aggression that was expected, Warrington rolled over and Saints controlled the game in a way that few teams have been able to do at The Halliwell Jones Stadium this season.
This was not their worst performance of the year but it may well have been the most disappointing. Because just when you expected them to kick on from two big wins and lay down a warning for the other play-offs hopefuls, Wolves produced a performance so flat you could have eaten it on Shrove Tuesday.
Their defence was largely solid, but lacked the aggression needed to put Saints on the back foot.
Most problematic was their execution in attack, which saw Wolves spurn numerous chances within Saints’ 10-metre line either through poor pass selection or handling errors. They just could not get themselves firing. The loss of Garreth Carvell to injury just minutes after his arrival on the field hurt the hosts more than they admitted afterwards.
You just hope that this was a one-off blip that will inspire Wolves to step it up a notch now that their safety net has been taken away.
Rather that than once again fulfilling the role of ‘almost rans’ in Super League’s do-or-die finale.
Fewest number of points Wolves have scored in a game since Easter Monday 28-6 home defeat to Castleford in 2009
Wolves’ eighth loss in 10 play-off games in the Super League era
Lee Briers needs two more tries for 150 in Wolves matches
Brett Hodgson needs 13 points to reach 1,000 while in the British game. Saints match was his 100th appearance while in the British game (51 for Huddersfield, 47 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 touch downs for Warrington
Chris Riley made his 150th career appearance against Saints
Micky Higham needs one try to reach a career century of touch downs
Super League Qualifying Play-off
Saturday, September 15, 2012
Wolves: Brett Hodgson; Joel Monaghan, Stefan Ratchford, Ryan Atkins, Chris Riley; Lee Briers, Richie Myler; Adrian Morley , Micky Higham, Chris Hill, Trent Waterhouse, Simon Grix , Tyrone McCarthy . Subs: Michael Monaghan , Garreth Carvell, Paul Wood , Mike Cooper .
St Helens: Paul Wellens; Tom Makinson, Gary Wheeler, Josh Jones, Francis Meli; Lance Hohaia, Jonny Lomax; Josh Perry, James Roby, Anthony Laffranchi, Tony Puletua, Mark Flanagan, Jon Wilkin. Subs: Sia Soliola, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Paul Clough, Andrew Dixon.
Scoring: Hodgson try, 22mins, Hodgson goal, 6-0; Soliola try, 33mins, Makinson goal, 6-6; Makinson try, 37mins, Makinson goal, 6-12; Makinson try, 52mins, 6-16; Roby try, 65mins, Makinson goal, 6-22; Meli try, 68mins, Makinson goal, 6-28.
Pens: Wolves 7 Saints 8
Referee: Ben Thaler
Star man: Brett Hodgson