FOR the second year in a row, Warrington Wolves’ bid to win the Academy competition ended at the semi-final stage.

Having lost to eventual champions Leeds Rhinos this time last year, the young Wires were edged out by neighbours Wigan Warriors, who won 18-12 at Robin Park on Sunday afternoon.

Danny Evans’ side had stormed into a 12-0 lead in the early stages of the game and had the lion share of territory, but they could not make the most of their chances.

“We have a very disappointed group of players but I could not be prouder of the effort that we put into today’s game," academy head coach Evans said.

"Our effort and attitude can never be questioned and that has probably been the case all season. We just did not execute key areas at times, and this unfortunately cost us.

"I did not think there was much at all in the teams. We need these kinds of games that test us, and the players will be better for playing and learning in ones like these.”

The Wire were handed the perfect start when, after Cai Taylor-Wray’s break through the middle saw him hauled down just short of the line, the ball was shipped left to Arron Lindop and the centre muscled his way over the line.

Lindop then went from provider to scorer as he wriggled free down the left touchline and found livewire full-back Taylor-Wray in support for a walk-in try.

However, that served to wake the home side up and after scrum-half Jack Farrimond had kicked a 40-20 to earn them their first real territory of the match, hooker Tom Ratchford darted over from dummy-half to halve Wire’s lead.

The advantage was wiped out completely shortly afterwards as Farrimond supported a break from full-back Noah Hodkinson to score and send the sides into the break level, although Wire would have gone in ahead had Noah Booth converted a penalty kick on the stroke of the interval.

The visitors started the second period on the front foot but were again caught out by lively dummy-half Ratchford, whose quick feet exploited another gap in the Warrington defence for his second try.

Ratchford was arguably the game’s stand-out player and came close to sealing a hat-trick as he collected his own kick over the top and hared towards the line, only for Taylor-Wray to haul him down just short.

Try as they might, Warrington could not find a way back into the game as chances went begging, with Lindop offloading into touch having found a way through the line from a scrum in what was their clearest opening.

And so Evans’ players were left to reflect on another year of great promise, but they once again fell just short against one of the academy game’s perennial powerhouses.

“There are lessons in every game experience," head of youth Ryan O'Brien said.

"We did not get beat on character, but we could have made better tactical decisions in some key moments.

"I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that players on both sides today will go on to play in semi Finals and finals at senior level for their respective clubs, and it is important that our boys reflect on and learn from those decisions for when they play these types of games again in the future.”

Wolves: Cai Taylor-Wray; Dylon Braddish, Zack Gardner, Arron Lindop, Jake Thewlis; Pat Irwin, Noah Booth; Logan Raughter, Lewis Barratt, Noah High, Ewan Smith, Nolan Tupaea, Sam Marshall. Subs: Ben Hartill, Alfie Mather, Stephen Antrobus, Joe Bajer