IF this game is anything to go by, the future is looking bright for Warrington Wolves.

With the vast majority of the first team given the day off ahead of next week’s Super League opener, it was a chance for the side’s academy players to shine – and most of them did themselves no harm at all.

Playing against grown men was always going to be a big test for them, but helped out by a smattering of senior stars they came through admirably.

Post-match reaction from Wire academy coach Paul Anderson

Match action photo gallery

Fan reaction and match facts

A look back at the game as it happened

They had to overcome a bit of a false start as Lee Mitchell punched through with Hornets’ first attack. It could easily have been a long afternoon.

However, once that hiccup had been overcome, they began to move the ball around with a bit of youthful exuberance.

At the heart of it all was stand-off Riley Dean – the undoubted star of this particular show.

There was a fearlessness to how he operated. He was far from overawed by the challenge as he caused Rochdale all sorts of problems with his running, passing and kicking.

A try, an assist and a perfect four goals from as many attempts barely does his performance justice. On the current evidence, he has the potential to go far.

Warrington Guardian:

Hornets had plenty of spells probing away at the Wire line but the youngsters defended it with gusto, often forcing their more senior opponents into errors.

Only in the final quarter – when the senior players that did play had been taken off and tiredness had started to kick in – did Hornets really start to make progress.

In the end, Dean’s goalkicking was the difference as home kicker Dan Abram missed two of his four conversion attempts.

Defeat would have been harsh on The Wire but it probably would not have changed the context in which this game would have been viewed.

Above all else, this was a great learning exercise and shows new academy head coach Paul Anderson has plenty to work with.

In terms of the more senior players, plenty of eyes were on Matt Davis as he made his first Warrington appearance.

His lively performance in attack and defence shows he has learned plenty from his first taste of a Super League environment.

Warrington Guardian:

Sitaleki Akauola punched out 73 good minutes, while the sight of Ben Murdoch-Masila on the teamsheet in the second row was a shock to many.

The big Tongan may have only played 20 minutes, but it shows he is at least fit enough to be involved in a game and will be better for having a spell of really in-game contact prior to Saturday’s season curtain-raiser.

The younger players on show will have another month to wait until their academy campaign starts. For everyone else, it is onto Leeds.