FRIDAY’S 19-0 play-offs exit at home to Hull KR should go down as one of Warrington Wolves’ most embarrassing losses of the Super League era.

Rovers, who sneaked into the top six as a result of The Wire defeating Castleford the previous week, were missing nine players and had conceded an average 25 points per game over the past month.

And yet they nilled a team for the first time this season, Wolves being third-place finishers who were Super League’s second-highest scorers in 2021 and huge favourites to progress to the semi-finals.

The Wire also had huge emotion on their side, wanting to send out head coach Steve Price, club greats Lee Briers and Chris Hill plus all the other departing personnel with a big finish at Old Trafford.

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But they messed it up, big time.

When all was not going to plan, they let things get inside their heads and imploded initially through an astonishing catalogue of handling errors and then in the second half through conceding penalty after penalty.

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That is what pressure does to you, and the effect of being weighed down by expectancy and the baggage from previous failures become a distraction as concentration levels drop.

Wily old fox Tony Smith, who steered The Wire to three Grand Finals between 2012 and 2016, inspired his Hull players to hang in and survive when things got tough, believing that a frustrated Wolves lacked killer bite.

Warrington actually had the Robins on the ropes for the opening 14 minutes, despite some early handling errors.

When they were pummelling and tunnelling behind the ruck with the power of Joe Philbin and Chris Hill or explosive marauding from Daryl Clark, Stef Ratchford and George Williams they were at their most dangerous.

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But after Clark lost possession in the act of stretching out to score, the demons started scratching away at Wire minds.

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A Williams short kick ran dead and in the next set Rovers orchestrator Jordan Abdull sold Jake Mamo a dummy and touched down from the visitors’ first attack.

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Warrington Guardian:

The Robins’ confidence grew from that point on, and even when weight-throwing Tongan prop Albert Vete was sent to the sin bin Warrington did not take advantage.

With Wolves’ mistakes and Abdull’s game management in the second period it was a painful watch as The Wire failed miserably to get back into the game.

Price tried to alter the momentum by bringing the previous week’s hat-trick hero Matty Ashton off the bench at full-back but that backfired as he dropped two high kicks and Ratchford, who was moved to hooker, gave away successive penalties.

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Other potential game changers off the bench like Danny Walker and Blake Austin were not even in the 17, while Tom Lineham’s return from suspension in place of Josh Charnley was another surprise.

The Wire badly missed Mike Cooper, absent after his red card at Castleford, and they have done so on other occasions when he has not featured this season. Price chose Sita Akauola, so often left out in the wilderness, as his replacement and it all left fans scratching their heads before kick-off.

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But there is no doubt the healthy and expensively assembled 17 that took to the field were more than capable of replicating or bettering the 50-26 scoreline the last time the two sides met in May.

Shamefully though, Wolves blew it and let everyone down.

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Leeds were the last side to nil Wire on February 28, 2020

Third year running Wolves have lost opening play-off game at home

Steve Price's last game in charge of Warrington

Last Wire game for assistant coaches Lee Briers and Andrew Henderson, along with players Chris Hill, Tom Lineham, Jake Mamo, Sitaleki Akauola, while Jason Clark is also out of contract

Only Hull KR's second ever Super League play-off win


Super League, elimination play-off, Friday, September 24, 2021

Warrington Wolves...0 Hull KR...19

Wolves: Stefan Ratchford; Tom Lineham, Jake Mamo, Toby King, Josh Thewlis; George Williams, Gareth Widdop; Chris Hill, Daryl Clark, Sitaleki Akauola, Jack Hughes, Ben Currie, Joe Philbin. Subs: Jason Clark, Matty Ashton, Robbie Mulhern, Ellis Longstaff.

Hull KR: Will Dagger; Ben Crooks, Brad Takairangi, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Jimmy Keinhorst; Mikey Lewis, Jordan Abdull; George King, Jez Litton, Will Maher, Kane Linnett, Luis Johnson, Matthew Storton. Subs: Albert Vete, Rowan Milnes, Muizz Mustapha, Will Tate.

Scoring: Abdull try, 16mins, Abdull goal, 0-6; Lewis try, 47mins, Abdull goal, 0-12; Abdull penalty goal, 57mins, 0-14; Keinhorst try, 68mins, 0-18; Abdull drop goal, 72mins, 0-19.

Penalties: Wolves 5 Hull KR 6

Referee: Liam Moore

Attendance: 6,200

Top Man: To be decided by readers' poll

Warrington Guardian:

Warrington Guardian: