Wire fan Rob Watson – aka ‘Spirit of 55’ – has his say on The Wire’s return to action

AFTER five months that has at times felt more like five years, it was finally time to bring on the Wire.

I have often wondered what it would take to see some variation from kick-offs in rugby league, I was not expecting the answer to be a global pandemic and a five month lay-off.

Hull KR’s short kick off caught Wire, and in particular Anthony Gelling, off guard. Once they retained possession from their kick, Hull KR showed in their first set how they intended to play – moving the ball around from one side of the pitch to the other, including a kick through the line early in the tackle count, was too much for Wire to handle and the start to the re-start was just about as bad is it could get.

For the rest of the first half, Wire looked like a kid who had gone to school with the intention of behaving normally and in the way the school expected of them, but upon seeing another kid behave in a rebellious way they could not help but behave like that themselves.

It was definitely different and arguably better to watch than two teams going set for set by grinding away down the middle.

Had a few more passes stuck from both sides then it could well have become a greatly entertaining game. As it happened the rustiness from being the first game back did not seem to suit the free-flowing, risk-taking style.

Wire in particular had issues with their timing. As always seems to be the case, that resulted in runners setting off too soon rather than too late, like a rugby league anxiety kicking in that makes them go too fast too soon.

It took 23 minutes to see an obvious bit of exceptional timing as Currie ran a brilliant line off Widdop, whose short, soft pass put him through a hole in the Hull KR defence around the halfway line.

Currie slowed up just enough to allow the support to catch up, he possibly had a better option on the inside, but his pass wide to Lineham was good enough for the winger to go over in the corner.

Warrington Guardian:

Tom Lineham finishes off a nice move. Picture by Mike Boden

Ratchford maybe took advantage of being able to practice his goalkicking alone throughout lockdown, he kicked that conversion from the touchline to give Wire the lead.

Around ten minutes later Wire’s kicking game caused problems for Hull KR – first Austin’s cross-field kick was batted back to Widdop, whose grubber kick was not gathered cleanly, resulting in another set of six close to the Hull KR try line.

It only took a couple of plays for the try to come when Akauola crashed onto a short pass from Darryl Clark, to score from close range. An exceptional tackle from Ratchford meant that Wire went into the half time break with their eight-point lead intact.

In the second half, Wire looked more determined to play by their rules rather than Hull KR’s. They got on top early on in terms of territory and possession and never looked like conceding that advantage.

Gelling just about managed to get the ball down to score a try only a few minutes after the break. Tries followed from Charnley, Widdop, Ratchford and a second from Lineham.

The pick of the bunch for me was Widdop’s, after a planned and well-executed inside pass from Cooper sent Ratchford though a big hole in the defence behind the play the ball around the halfway line. Widdop pushed up in support to finish the try off.

Warrington Guardian:

Gareth Widdop on his way to scoring. Picture by Mike Boden

After such a long break the Wire team still essentially looked the same – solid and well organised in defence, with plenty of individual players who can hurt opposition teams in attack.

The big improvement to be made is in the fluidity and timing of their attacks, especially close to their opponent’s line. Ultimate success is unlikely with an over-reliance on kicks and individual moments of brilliance to produce tries.

Hopefully the games coming thick and fast in the second half of this re-started season will help them find that timing and fluidity, more than any amount of practicing against each other will.

One of my favourite sporting sayings is – ‘Champions are made when nobody is watching’, in 2020 that is taking on a more literal meaning.

For years I have been envisioning sitting in one of those cramped seats at Old Trafford, watching the Wire finally win the title, it won’t be the same but I will definitely take watching them win it whilst sat on a sofa.

Warrington Guardian:

Anthony Gelling is congratulated by Jack Hughes and Josh Charnley. Picture by Mike Boden