WHY do Warrington Wolves seemingly insist upon making things as hard for themselves as possible?

At 16-0 up after an encouraging first quarter, we were all hoping The Wire would put their foot on Toronto’s throats and canter to an easy and convincing victory.

It was not to be and while credit has to go to the Wolfpack for turning things around when they looked a beaten side early on, they got a helping hand.

Warrington gave away eight penalties during the match – far too many against any side, let alone one that is willing to throw the ball around with as much gay abandon as the Canadians.

Once they brought Tony Gigot off the bench and moved Gareth O’Brien to the halves, they looked a completely different side and were arguably the better of the two in the 40 minutes either side of half time.

It could have been much worse, too, had Toronto not dropped the ball over the line twice in the first half through Bodene Thompson and Matty Russell – albeit as a result of excellent defensive efforts.

In a final margin of 10 points, that could have made all the difference.

That said, the decision to allow Andy Ackers’ try on the stroke of half-time was farcical, with Josh McCrone standing idly in the ruck and making no attempt to get out of the way.

In a half The Wire largely controlled, that probably played a big part in changing the momentum.

Before then, they had been offering signs that the drudgery of the Wakefield game had been well and truly put behind them.

They were moving the ball well and scored some excellent tries, with Tom Lineham’s catching the eye in particular.

Wolves seem more keen to use the blind side this year and it showed, with their handling to get Lineham away when space seemed at a premium excellent.

Warrington Guardian:

Tom Lineham's try came from an excellent blind-side move. Picture by Mike Boden

Matty Ashton was again a massive threat – he really does lift people from their seats when he gets the ball and a try was the least he deserved.

You could feel the place take on a sharp intake of breath when he clutched at his hamstring after another electrifying break.

With him now expected to miss several weeks, Steve Price must once again chop and change his backline.

A deserved mention to Mike Cooper, too, who churned out an impressive 80 minutes in the front row, while Josh Charnley came to his side’s rescue with two try-saving interventions in the corner.

Warrington Guardian:

Mike Cooper played the full 80 minutes. Picture by Mike Boden

On the whole then, there were plenty of Wire fans on Price’s back before this game and only a convincing victory would have been enough to satisfy them.

Was this sufficient? Probably not.

While the Blake Austin-Gareth Widdop partnership does need time to fully flourish, the problem of a seemingly stagnant style of play pre-dates their link-up.

With three games against sides likely to be among their rivals for a top-five spot coming up, we are about to see whereabouts The Wire really are.

Warrington Guardian:

The Wire are likely to face crucial games against Leeds, Castleford and Hull FC without the electric Matty Ashton. Picture by Mike Boden


. First ever Super League meeting between these two sides

. Six goals for Stefan Ratchford takes him to 1,000 career Super League points (868 for Wire, 132 for Salford)

. Tom Lineham scores his 150th career try

. Gareth Widdop marks his home debut with a try

. Matty Ashton scores his first ever try in Super League


Super League, round four

Friday, February 21, 2020

Warrington Wolves...32 Toronto Wolfpack...22

Wolves: Matty Ashton; Josh Charnley, Toby King, Stefan Ratchford, Tom Lineham; Blake Austin, Gareth Widdop; Joe Philbin, Daryl Clark, Mike Cooper, Ben Murdoch-Masila, Ben Currie, Jason Clark. Subs: Matt Davis, Danny Walker, Luis Johnson, Luther Burrell

Wolfpack: Gareth O'Brien; Liam Kay, Hakim Miloudi, Ricky Leutele, Matty Russell; Blake Wallace, Josh McCrone; Anthony Mullally, Andy Ackers, Brad Singleton, Sonny Bill Williams, Bodene Thompson, Jon Wilkin. Subs: Adam Sidlow, Tom Olbison, Greg Worthington, Tony Gigot

Scoring: Charnley try, 7mins, 4-0; Widdop try, 10mins, Ratchford goal, 10-0; Lineham try, 23mins, Ratchford goal, 16-0; Wilkin try, 33mins, Wallace goal, 16-6; Ashton try, 36mins, Ratchford goal, 22-6; Ackers try, 40mins, Wallace goal, 22-12; Russell try, 49mins, 22-16; O'Brien try, 57mins, Wallace goal, 22-22; Ratchford penalty, 64mins, 24-22; Ratchford penalty, 70mins, 26-22; Murdoch-Masila try, 79mins, Ratchford goal, 32-22

Penalties: Wolves 5 Wolfpack 8

Referee: Scott Mikalauskas

Attendance: 11,182