Three tries for Super Ben in Salford slaughter
Warrington Wolves 68 - Salford City Reds 10
By Alan Domville (photo courtesy of Neil Ashurst, P&B Pictures)
Milestones: Simon Grix has now made 150 appearances in Primrose and Blue
Ben Westwood scored his 100th (101st, 102nd) try for the Wolves
With a 12-try romp in the Halliwell Jones sunshine, Warrington put Salford to the sword and maintained their challenge near the top of Super League.
Wolves toyed with the hapless opposition for almost all the game. Bennie Westwood scored his 100th try when he went over in Warrington's second set, added another in the next raid and completed his hat trick in the second half.
Both sides were coming off wins at the Magic Weekend that have kept Warrington challenging near the top of the table and lifted Salford from off the bottom rung of the ladder.
From the side that stunned St Helens with a 48 points display at the Etihad Wolves head coach Tony Smith selected Ben Currie at loose forward for Mike Cooper, brought in Tyrone McCarthy for the bench and swapped centres Simon Grix and Ryan Atkins.
Brian Noble, whose charges earned a precious victory against Widnes two minutes from time last week, was unable to select Darrell Griffin who was injured in that game.
The try fest began when Richie Myler's clever grubber kick was spilled by Salford on their own line and Westwood capitalised. Stefan Ratchford couldn't convert - but he had only one more miss all the game and would finish with a haul of 24 points.
Westwood was over again after a terrific break by Grix who was making his 150th appearance for Wolves.
It took Salford nine minutes to enter the Warrington half and in doing so coughed up possession. Warrington made the same mistake in their next two sets to give Salford an opportunity but the moved ended with the ball going dead in goal.
Wolves then forced a goal-line drop out and in the return Myler and Lee Briers combined to send Joel Monaghan over in the corner.
Myler then made the most of a loose Salford pass to race 50 metres and send the supporting Currie under the posts. With Ratchford's kick it was 22-0 in 21 minutes but the small Salford following suddenly had something to cheer when Jodie Broughton went over unopposed on his left wing.
Myler's next trick was an "up and under" that almost saw Grix go over. The ball was swept quickly to the left but Atkins just failed to hold the ball in front of a glaring gap in the defence.
And it was Myler again who was able to make something of another Salford ball spill, getting the ball away in the tackle and sending Currie in for his second try.
It was all Warrington now. Joel Monaghan was stopped just short of the line after Salford had been penalised for spoiling at Garreth Carvell's play the ball. A speculative Ratchford kick before the first tackle on the next set looked dangerous but Myler just couldn't reach the high ball.
Salford, already doomed at 28-4, began the second half with a 40:20 and a scrum near the Warrington line but the home defence held firm.
And Wolves went hunting again soon afterwards with quick passes by Atkins and Myler sending Ratchford under the posts.
Chris Riley then made a superb break, throwing off one tackle with ease, but the move ended with a forward pass.
As in the recent cup-tie, Salford fans began to amuse themselves with some community singing.
Ratchford and Briers then combined to send Joel Monaghan powering over in his corner for his second try of the afternoon. Ratchford's conversion from the touchline made it 40-4.
A beautiful flicked pass from Riley to Ratchford enabled the full back to put Myler away. He was caught but managed to stretch out and place the ball over the whitewash.
Two superb drives in the same set by Carvell led to the next try - Westwood's third - and it took Warrington up to 50 points.
Quick hands then saw Riley race over in the corner and he was able to continue all the way to the posts to give Ratchford an easier kick at goal.
With the chant "Michael, Michael" ringing in his ears the Warrington number nine raced 50 metres before crossing under the posts, having served a lovely dummy half way along.
Michael was there again a minute later but Briers just failed to collect his pass.
Micky Higham then returned to the fray and Carvell took a deserved breather after a splendid display.
Myler and Atkins were both unlucky not to score when the ball was over the Salford line, the first raid having forced yet another drop out from under the sticks.
Salford's second attack of the half didn't come until 11 minutes from the end but Lee Gaskell was able to touch down and Marc Sneyd added the extras.
In the last minute, Westwood and Currie linked up to send Higham scurrying towards the sticks and Ratchford's 10th goal made 68-10.
Wolves head of coaching and rugby Tony Smith said: "I thought we were very committed. The easy thing would have been to not compete at our best today because we've had some recent hit-outs against our opponents and won fairly comfortably; so to stand up and deliver again took some commitment and took some overcoming of the complacency tag that you can easily have going into a game like that. There were certainly no aspects of that shown there today. Our boys were very good and stuck to the task they set out to do today.
"We go away and analyse like we always do. We'll assess what we did best and what we didn't do so well - they scored a couple of tries and they were smart tries and well done to them but we'll go and analyse that and see how we could have prevented those sort of situations. I thought overall we were pretty much in control of most aspects of the game but there's always faults and bits you go away and assess and say you'd like to do a bit better; that's how you improve.
"The weather helps. I've said all along we are pretty good on top of the ground...I think that showed there today - the skill levels and also in the speed that we play at; it suits us this sort of weather."
And on those reaching milestones today he added: "Simon's been playing exceptionally well this year. He's been terrific and one of our most consistent players so far this year. He did well and I'm pleased for Simon. He's been playing in all sorts of positions for us and doing a great job.
"Ben Westwood's 100th (try), 101st and 102nd all came today. He played well. He's been building up and there's a few of our players who have been building up to some of their best performances lately and that was the challenge for them; to perform the best that they have all year."
Stefan Ratchford, Chris Riley, Ryan Atkins, Simon Grix, Joel Monaghan, Lee Briers, Richie Myler, Paul Wood, Micky Higham, Chris Hill, Trent Waterhouse, Ben Westwood, Ben Currie
Subs: Adrian Morley, Michael Monaghan, Garreth Carvell, Tyrone McCarthy
Tries: Westwood (3), J Monaghan (2), Currie (2), Ratchford, Myler, Riley, M Monaghan, Higham
Goals: Ratchford (10)
Marc Sneyd, Ashley Gibson, Martin Gleeson, Lee Gaskell, Jodie Broughton, Ryan McGoldrick, Theo Fages, Jake Emmitt, Liam Foran, Adam Walne, Matty Ashurst, Andrew Dixon, Stephen Wild
Subs: Wayne Godwin, Jordan James, Adam Neal, Vic Mauro
Tries: Broughton, Gaskell
Game pictures below - courtesy of Bob Brough
02, Jun, 2013