IT was an afternoon full of tension, drama and ultimately for Warrington Wolves, heartbreak.

Play-off rivals Salford Red Devils consigned them to a golden-point defeat at the AJ Bell Stadium to blow the race for a top-six spot wide open again.

The sides are now level on points with two games remaining, but did Salford strike a psychological blow to The Wire?

Here, our Warrington Wolves reporter Matt Turner picks out five key talking points from Sunday's game...

Warrington Guardian:

Old habits die hard

For many years now, there has been a narrative surrounding Warrington Wolves and their handling – or lack thereof – of high-pressure situations.

It was something referenced by Daryl Powell when he took on the Wire head coaching role and on numerous occasions while he was in-post, including that fateful final parting shot at Wakefield.

When the heat is turned up, people say, The Wire wilt and this was another piece of evidence to support that theory.

This game emerged as the most significant of Warrington’s run-in given the proximity of the two teams in the table and despite a performance that was way below their best, they were in a position to win the match not once, but twice.

When cool heads were needed to see the game out once George Williams had given them the lead with 10 minutes left, Wire lost theirs again.

From the sublime to the ridiculous with the ball

Albeit when faced with hapless opposition in the shape of Castleford last week, Wire were irresistible with the ball at times in scoring 66 points last time out.

However, this showing demonstrated that there is still plenty of work to be done in attack and that the team are not yet fully dialled into what new attacking coach Martin Gleeson wants from them.

It does take time to get used to a new method of playing, but any attempt to build enough pressure to get into an attacking flow was hindered by the countless sloppy errors they were making.

And when push came to shove, it meant they never got close to any kind of position to set up a winning drop goal in the dying embers of normal time and in golden point.

By contrast, Salford had two shies at drop goals – one charged down from Ryan Brierley and another from Marc Sneyd that struck the post – before Sam Stone’s breakaway try meant they secured a deserved victory.

Crowther impresses again

One of the leading lights for Warrington once again was Jordy Crowther, who put in another impressive showing off the bench.

He had to pass a first-half HIA to rejoin the action after the break, but he defended well and carried the ball with real intent.

It is fair to say there was scepticism abound when he arrived from Wakefield in what proved to be Daryl Powell’s final piece of recruitment business, but he has certainly elevated himself in the thoughts of Warrington fans.

So much so that there are plenty asking whether the ink is dry on his move to Castleford Tigers for next year…

It is, but it shows the kind of impact the utility forward has made since crossing the Pennines.

A perfect, free-to-air advert for rugby league?

Was this game one for the rugby league purists? Absolutely not…

The number of errors made by both sides will have had coaches and supporters alike tearing their hair out at times.

However, for anyone not initiated in the nuances of our game who stumbled across it on Channel Four, it was surely one that will have made them come back for more.

Less so in terms of quality but more in terms of the to-and-fro, topsy-turvy nature of the contest and of course, the thrilling finish.

Games like that are the kind those in charge will be wanting to show to free-to-air viewers with the hope of attracting more eyes to the sport.

Prepare for some raised heart rates

Wire’s destiny is still very much in their own hands when it comes to the play-offs, but they have missed an opportunity to make life easy for themselves.

A victory today would have all but secured a top-six spot, meaning they could have gone into the final two regular-season games with the pressure valve released somewhat.

However, now things are wide open again and the margin for error is very much gone.

As they prepare for the visit of St Helens, whom they have not beaten in over two years, it is not an ideal situation to be in.

And whatever happens next week, things will still be technically alive going into the final round of matches. Great for the neutrals, not so much for fans of any one of the three teams competing for those final two spots.