WHAT happened at Castleford may not have come as much of a surprise to anybody who has followed Warrington Wolves this year.

For they will know that they can blow anybody away when they turn it on but can be alarmingly lax when they don’t.

On this occasion, we witnessed both sides of this year’s vintage but we certainly saw more Jekyll than Hyde.

Picture by PA Wire

Picture by PA Wire

All things considered, the first half at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle has to be put up there among their best of the season, if not right at the top.

> Why Steve Price considered the first half Wire's best of 2021

Given they had relatively little to play for, it would have been easy for them to allow the tidal wave of emotion the Tigers were playing with to wash over them.

After all, this was the final home game in charge for their Wire-bound head coach Daryl Powell and the last Jungle hurrah for club legends Michael Shenton and Grant Millington among others.

And of course, they needed to win to keep their season alive.

Despite all of that, the way Warrington performed before the break was as if they were intent on showing this game was about more than just one team.

Matty Ashton and Jake Mamo will of course get all the headlines for their tries and rightly so, but the platform was set for them by the dominance of the middle unit with and without the ball.

Picture by PA Wire

Picture by PA Wire

While his display was tarnished by the red card that ended his night – and possibly his play-off campaign – Mike Cooper was typically superb alongside Chris Hill, while Robbie Mulhern continued to play himself into some strong form off the bench.

> Read Steve Price's reaction to Mike Cooper's sending-off here

Mamo’s showing will only increase the head-scratching around why he is being allowed to leave the club, while Ashton showed the kind of opportunism and X-factor that surely makes him difficult to leave out.

Picture by SWPix.com

Picture by SWPix.com

But then, for 12 chaotic minutes, The Wire threatened to throw away their sterling work.

That period midway through the second half saw four tries conceded, Josh Charnley sent to the sin bin and culminated in Cooper’s dismissal for a shoulder charge on Liam Watts.

Any contact looked accidental with Watts falling to the floor, but a red card always seemed likely once video replays had been examined.

Warrington deserve immense credit for the way they wrestled back momentum and managed the last knockings as again, it would have been easy to roll over.

However, it was a hole they dug for themselves with sloppy play and poor discipline.

Picture by SWPix.com

Picture by SWPix.com

It seems The Wire have been fighting a battle to suppress this kind of thing for most of the year, but it has never been more important than it is now.

From now on, a similar kind of brain explosion could prove terminal to their season.

Still, it is four wins from five to finish the season and they certainly go into the play-offs with more momentum than they have in the past two years.

The real stuff starts now…

Picture by SWPix.com

Picture by SWPix.com


. Wolves hit the 40-point mark for the sixth time this year

. Mike Cooper’s red card was Wire’s first in 2021


Super League, Round 25

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Castleford Tigers...24 Warrington Wolves...40

Tigers: Niall Evalds; Derrell Olpherts, Peter Mata'utia, Michael Shenton, Jordan Turner; Danny Richardson, Gareth O'Brien; George Griffin, Paul McShane, Grant Millington, Alex Foster, Jesse Sene-Lefao, Massey. Subs: Liam Watts, Adam Milner, Daniel Smith, Suaia Matagi

Wolves: Matty Ashton; Josh Charnley, Jake Mamo, Connor Wrench, Josh Thewlis; George Williams, Gareth Widdop; Chris Hill, Stefan Ratchford, Mike Cooper, Jack Hughes, Ben Currie, Joe Philbin. Subs: Jason Clark, Robbie Mulhern, Blake Austin. Not used: Ellis Longstaff

Scoring: Ashton try, 6mins, Ratchford goal, 0-6; Mamo try, 8mins, Ratchford goal, 0-12; Ratchford penalty, 24mins, 0-14; Ashton try, 26mins, Ratchford goal, 0-20; Mamo try, 31mins, Ratchford goal, 0-26; Ashton try, 43mins, Ratchford goal, 0-32; Mata'utia try, 53mins, Richardson goal, 6-32; Mata'utia try, 56mins, Richardson goal, 12-32; Turner try, 59mins, Richardson goal, 18-32; Millington try, 63mins, Richardson goal, 24-32; Ratchford penalty, 68mins, 24-34; Wrench try, 78mins, Widdop goal, 24-40

Penalties: Tigers 4 Wolves 8

Sin bin: Charnley (56mins, dangerous tackle)

Sent off: Cooper (65mins, shoulder charge)

Referee: Liam Moore

Attendance: TBC

Top Man: VOTE HERE (Poll closes at 10am)