Wolves fight back to defeat Tigers
Castleford Tigers 30 - Warrington Wolves 40
By Rachel Arnett (photo courtesy of Neil Ashurst P&B Pictures)
Warrington Wolves travelled across the Pennines looking to bounce back from last week's cup defeat and keep the pressure on those currently occupying first and second spot in the Super League table.
The last time the Wolves and Tigers met was all the way back in Round 1 at The Halliwell Jones Stadium. The Wolves secured a home win but with many games having been played since then and the business end of the season well underway there was everything to play for, for both sides.
The Wolves' line-up saw a number of changes from last week with Hodgson, Michael Monaghan and Cooper all out. Myler, Dwyer and Laithwaite were named in the 17 with Myler making his return from injury.
Castleford Tigers also named a different team from the one that faced Huddersfield last time out with five changes across the 17 namely Mason returning and Owen missing from the starting line-up.
The game was a tale of possession. The first half saw the Tigers build momentum and convert opportunities into points to secure a 12-point lead at the break but play then swung in the Wolves' favour in the second half as they staged a fight-back to snatch the win in the final quarter despite the continued efforts of the home side.
Warrington were first in attack and knocked on just a few plays in to set up some early defending. Repeat penalties followed, opening up opportunities for the Tigers to pressure the line from as little as 10 metres out. The home side got over the whitewash first but to the disappointment of the Castleford spectators the referee brought play back for a penalty conceded at the scrum, giving the Wolves the possession.
The opening period saw end-to-end play with both sides asking questions of each other. Despite the Tigers opening up opportunities to score it was the visitors who were first on the scoreboard. A grubber kick from Myler was chased well and the Tigers were forced to carry the ball out of play and defend from a drop out. A quick scurry to the line by Briers on 13 minutes saw him touch down next to the posts for an easy conversion for Ratchford.
The weight of possession then changed hands and the Tigers dominated play for the majority of the second quarter.
The scores were levelled on 18 minutes when space opened up to put Carney over in the left corner. Dixon was able to add the touchline conversion. 6-6.
This score spurred the home side on and forced errors by the Wolves. On 21 minutes Hauraki was the next to power over despite the tackling efforts of the defence over the line. 12-6.
With momentum in their favour two more Castleford tries came before the break. Milner was next over before Dixon added a converted try of his own showing pace and precision down the right wing.
The final say of the half, however, came from the Wolves when Joel Monaghan claimed possession for the visitors with a well-timed jump to collect the high ball on the Tigers' last. A penalty soon after edged the Wolves nearer and Carvell had the strength to power towards the line and stretch over for a try next to the posts. Ratchford's conversion took the half time score to 24-12.
The second half saw a change in fortune for the Wolves as the weight of possession worked in their favour opening more opportunities to keep the ball alive and gain stronger field position.
A charge-down by Castleford ricocheted in the Wolves' favour as Ratchford was able to collect the ball on the rebound. Good play between Myler and Dwyer saw the young hooker be the next to dart over doing well to twist in the tackle to ground the ball. Ratchford's conversion narrowed the gap to within one converted try before Myler's quick thinking for the next score levelled things at 24-24.
Despite the best efforts of the Tigers the momentum continued for their opponents and Higham was able to find a gap to cross for the lead. Ratchford once again converted to make it 24-30
Possession then switched hands for a period with the Tigers' kicking game forcing the Wolves to defend a repeat set from a drop-out. Huby capitalised on the opportunity and field position crossing under the sticks. Dixon added the easy conversion to draw the scores level once again at 30-30.
The Wolves wrapped up the game with a further two tries; the first from Higham who took a short offload from Myler to touch down before Castleford kicked out on the full from the restart. This gave the Wolves the play from halfway taking it out to the right for Joel Monaghan to have the final say with a try in the corner. Ratchford converted the first.
Further opportunities presented themselves with Dwyer held up over the line and strong breaks by Bridge and Briers but there were no further scores to come.
Wolves' head of coaching and rugby Tony Smith said: "The weight of possession was just enormous and told today. They are a terrific attacking team and we didn't have our fair share of the ball in that first half. When we did I was quite pleased that we were within 12 points for the weight of possession that was against us. It was pretty self-explanatory; whoever got the ball in their hands and controlled it would probably score some tries. I was really pleased with our boys; we were flat early in the week after our defeat and it was noticeably flat around training for a few days so today was about character for us and I thought we showed bucket loads of it. I'm really pleased with the character that we showed to fight back and change the momentum of the game. The momentum was fully on Cas in that first half and to wrestle that back into our favour takes some character. I've been at this place before in my time at Warrington and we wouldn't have turned that around but we turned it around today and I'm really pleased and proud of the way they hung in there. Castleford are a terrific attacking team and will ask you some questions that no other team in the competition will ask of you."
Jordan Tansey, Kirk Dixon, Michael Shenton, Michael Channing, Justin Carney, Rangi Chase, Jamie Ellis, Ryan Boyle, Adam Milner, Craig Huby, Grant Millington, Weller Hauraki, Nathan Massey
Subs: Daryl Clark, Dan Fleming, Charlie Martin, Keith Mason
Tries: Carney, Hauraki, Milner, Dixon, Huby
Goals: Dixon (5)
Stefan Ratchford, Chris Riley, Simon Grix, Chris Bridge, Joel Monaghan, Lee Briers, Richie Myler, Paul Wood, Micky Higham, Chris Hill, Trent Waterhouse, Ben Westwood, Ben Harrison
Subs: Adrian Morley, Garreth Carvell, Brad Dwyer, James Laithwaite
Tries: Briers, Carvell, Dwyer, Myler, Higham (2), J Monaghan
Goals: Ratchford (6)
Game pictures below courtesy of Bob Brough
04, Aug, 2013