Wire fan and published author Rob Watson, AKA Spirit of '55, gives his thoughts on the win against Castleford Tigers

HAPPILY it was Dr Jekyll’s turn to make an appearance.

A spirited and hard-working display against a Castleford side playing in a similar fashion made for a closely fought encounter, with a more than decent amount of entertainment value and a chaotically thrilling finish.

Danny Walker revelled in a rare starting role, showing that he is more than an able deputy to fill in for Daryl Clarke from time to time. Wire’s focus on going down the middle gave him the chance to make several darting runs from the play the ball and he took that chance with both hands. Overall the team seemed to run harder than the last few weeks, and certainly defended with more desire and togetherness than they managed the previous week.

It was the sort of game where neither team had the ascendancy for more than a few minutes, not allowing them to apply repeated pressure on their opponents try line. Putting that together with a lack of any great levels of creativity from both teams played a big part in only two tries being scored. Fair to say that both teams defending better than they attacked.

Wire did score the only try in the first half, when Widdop attacked the line about thirty metres out and his quick short pass enabled Currie to get his nose through the defensive line. From there the second rower produced a classy one-handed offload to King who managed to slow up and delay his pass just enough to Lineham to allow the winger to produce his extravagant, diving finish in the corner.

There might be a lesson to be learned there, for Wire to attack wide from further out more often. Waiting to get within ten metres from the line before they really start looking to score is not something that has been overly successful for them for years now. Once you get that close you are trying to break down a defence made up of one marker and a line of twelve, from further out there are two markers and a full back, leaving a line of ten to try to get through or around.

Widdop has two aspects that are bound to attract criticism; he’s a half back and he gets paid a lot. It appears that some people think that ‘marquee’ players are supposed to have magic powers, maybe the ability to make defenders disappear. Even if someone quadrupled my salary, it wouldn’t make me any better at my job.

Maybe for a generation of Wire fans who watched Lee Briers they have had their version of what a halfback is supposed to do skewed slightly, because there were times Briers was carrying teams and doing virtually everything. It could be argued that Briers was at his most effective at the back end of his career when he felt able to take a step back and not get involved so much.

From what I have seen of Widdop he is not the sort of halfback that is likely to dazzle you with an outrageous performance in one game, the way Austin and Sandow did at the start of their first full seasons with Wire. Widdop is more likely to have a more subtle, accumulative effect on the team and make players around him look better. For anyone to play fullback and halfback in the NRL for ten seasons, it’s a safe bet that they can play a bit.

Castleford edged back in front when Keenan Brand’s desperate, and admirable attempt to protect his team’s try line resulted in a high shot and a penalty try. The youngster looked more comfortable in the team than he did the previous week, and showed great character to put in a solid performance.

Chris Hill winning a collision near the Castleford line after just over an hour, resulted in a penalty that allowed Ratchford to level the scores at eight points all.

In the last seven minutes we were treated to an exhibition of drop goals, sadly it was an exhibition of how not to score them. Both teams missed five between them.

What was impressive from Wire was the desire to put pressure on the kicker, Philbin and Ratchford in particular, making great efforts on separate kicks.

With just under a minute to go Austin finally nailed a drop goal, to spark scenes of celebration sprinkled in with a sizeable chunk of relief. The celebrations were a little premature as there was still time for it to all go horribly wrong. Fortunately, Ratchford had the awareness to wait for the ball to travel ten metres forwards and the desire to make it his once to did get there, to clinch the much-needed win.

I still think the enthusiasm could be cranked up a little further, to ‘chaotically crazy’ sort of levels. The attack can definitely be better, with more willingness to get the ball wide and greater timing and fluency that will hopefully gradually increase as the season develops. It was a million times better than last week though, maybe there is still as far to travel. They could never have answered all the criticism labelled at them in one game, but they can only answer it one game at a time.