WHEN you consider it took eight rounds of Super League before a Warrington Wolves win was achieved this year the importance of a good start in the Middle 8s should not be understated.

The Wire certainly did not have things all their own way at Widnes and with trailing 14-6 after 48 minutes it would have been fair to fear the worst, especially with the way such a disappointing season has unfolded.

But Wolves were skilfully and patiently working to a plan that paid dividends in the final quarter and one that sets them on the path to Super League salvation.

With seven players in the Widnes side returning from injury, The Wire were confident the hosts would tire in the second half and set about ‘working over’ the Vikings threats from the start to take the sting out of their armoury.

It was a smart move, focusing a lot of attention on making the big men around the ruck area work overtime as well as the halves and talented second rower Matt Whitley, who ended up having to make 49 tackles.

Wolves’ plotting was like a game of chess until they were ready to go for the jugular which they did in style with four unanswered tries in 25 minutes.

The first of those – to spark the comeback – involved immense skill as Ryan Atkins flicked on Stefan Ratchford’s pass to allow leading try scorer Tom Lineham to diver over in the corner as he resisted the challenge of Joe Mellor.

Then Dec Patton spotted space beyond the advancing Jack Buchanan and so he sidestepped the prop and evaded two other defenders on a dance to the line that put Wire back into a lead they first established in the third minute through Jack Hughes charging on to a Kevin Brown pass.

Widnes were not about to throw in the towel and twice – once with help from Benjamin Jullien – Stefan Ratchford made try-saving tackles on Stefan Marsh.

A counter-attack led by Ratchford before Peta Hiku brilliantly put Matty Russell over with a reverse-flick pass must have been sickening for the hosts as they fell eight points behind.

Hiku angled his run brilliantly to cash in on the Patton-Brown combination to for the final score.


. Fourth win against Widnes in 2017, fourth victory on the trot

. Wire have won the last nine meetings with Widnes

. Jack Hughes’ 44th consecutive game, the best current record among Super League players


Qualifiers Round 1, Friday, August 4, 2017.

Widnes Vikings…14 Warrington Wolves…28.

Vikings: Rhys Hanbury; Stefan Marsh, Chris Bridge, Charly Runciman, Corey Thompson; Joe Mellor, Danny Craven; Jack Buchanan, Lloyd White, Gil Dudson, Chris Houston, Matt Whitley, Hep Cahill. Subs: Manase Manuokafoa, Jay Chapelhow, Tom Olbison, Jordan Johnstone.

Wolves: Stefan Ratchford; Matty Russell, Peta Hiku, Ryan Atkins, Tom Lineham; Kevin Brown, Dec Patton; Chris Hill, Daryl Clark, Ashton Sims, Jack Hughes, Benjamin Jullien, Mike Cooper. Subs: George King, Andre Savelio, Joe Philbin, Morgan Smith.

Scoring: Hughes try,3mins, Patton goal, 0-6; Buchanan try, 14mins, White goal, 6-6; Mellor try, 30mins, White goal, 12-6; White penalty goal, 48mins, 14-6; Lineham try, 49mins, 14-10; Patton try, 63mins, Patton goal, 14-16; Russell try, 68mins, Patton goal, 14-22; Patton penalty goal, 71mins, 14-24; Hiku try, 74mins, 14-28.

Penalties: Vikings 5 Wolves 6.

Referee: Phil Bentham.

Attendance: 6,202.

Guardian man of the match: Ratchford.