STEVE Price reserved special praise for the middle unit after watching his Warrington Wolves side see off Wakefield Trinity.

Needing a response from their Challenge Cup semi-final loss to Castleford, The Wire delivered with a comfortable victory at The Halliwell Jones Stadium.

Price’s men got off to flying starts in both halves, with Gareth Widdop and Ben Currie going over early on to establish control before Jake Mamo and Josh Charnley did so shortly after half time to keep Trinity at arms’ length.

For the backs to flourish, however, Price picked out the platform set by starting big guns Chris Hill, Mike Cooper and Joe Philbin which was carried on by the likes of Robbie Mulhern and Sitaleki Akauola off the bench.

“It was a great response by the boys,” the Wire boss said after the game.

“That first 23-24 minutes – the three big boys in Hilly, Coops and Philbo set a really good platform for us.

“We got some really good momentum through that middle third and it was reflected on the scoreboard.

“Sita had some really strong runs that really changed the momentum and we had some joy off the back of that.

Picture by Mike Boden

Picture by Mike Boden

“He does that really well but it’s the other part of his game that he needs to keep improving.

“I thought Robbie Mul gave us good momentum from a defensive point of view with the little efforts he was doing.

“I thought there were some really positive displays tonight.

“We spoke about starting well again after half time and it’s credit to the boys for delivering what they spoke about.”

Despite reducing Wolves’ lead to eight points through David Fifita’s first-half try, Wakefield – who did not arrive at the ground until 45 minutes before kick off due to traffic problems – rarely threatened to reel their hosts in.

They did get over in the second half through Joe Arundel before Lee Kershaw went over with the game’s final play – a try that somewhat irked Price.

“They are a quality team who ask a lot of questions from an offensive point of view. You have to do a lot of work defensively against them,” he said.

“I was disappointed with that last try – it would have been nice to keep them to 12 points.

“I thought Stef Ratchford had a really solid game off the back of our kick chase. We invested really heavily in our first three carries and that was really pleasing.”

Winger Charnley went on to complete a hat-trick of tries – the first time he has done so since the 63-12 win at Hull FC in March 2019 – in what was a pleasing return to form following a difficult afternoon in last week’s semi-final.

Picture by Mike Boden

Picture by Mike Boden

Price was keen to praise his efforts and those of Widdop, who sparkled again on the day he was recalled to the England squad.

“He’s been down a little bit but that was a great reward for hanging tough and perseverance,” he said of Charnley.

“He got some good clean ball and I’m really pleased for him as he works really hard at his craft.

“Sometimes in this game it’s not always how you want it to be, but it was tonight.

“I feel Gaz has been the form player of the competition and he’s going to be a real asset to England.

“Whatever he’s doing, he can keep it going! He’s in a good place and he’s playing terrific.”

Picture by Mike Boden

Picture by Mike Boden

Price also confirmed The Wire emerged from the game with a clean bill of health ahead of a trip to competition leaders St Helens on Thursday.