Wolves win nip and tuck game against Wildcats
Wakefield Wildcats 34 Warrington Wolves 41
By Rachel Arnett (photo header courtesy of Neil Ashurst)
Warrington were on the road for the second weekend in a row hoping to bounce back from their loss at the hands of Leeds last week.
The Wildcats also went into the game on the back of a defeat to Wigan so both sides were keen to get back to winning ways following the tough Easter period.
The Wolves won both encounters last year so would be hoping to replicate those victories at the Rapid Solicitors Stadium this time out.
The Wolves 17 players remained unchanged with just a few changes to the starting 13; Higham and Currie both starting with Harrison and Michael Monaghan on the bench. The Wildcats line-up saw player changes, with Mathers out injured and Poore suspended, coach Agar brought in Lyne and Kirmond.
The first forty was a mixed bag with the Wolves taking early control before a late comeback by the home side. The visitors found themselves with an 18-point cushion midway through the half but the game then took a turn in the favour of the Wildcats, closing the gap to eight points at half time. The second half saw a reverse with the Wildcats going in, building on their momentum from the first but the final quarter saw play switch and the Wolves finished as they started in control of the scoreboard but not without a final push from the home side to add some intrigue to the closing stages.
Cockayne got the game underway for the Wildcats with the visitors first in attack. Quick hands and a final strong drive by Hill took the Wolves to within 30 metres on the last. Keeping the ball alive play was carried to the left and Atkins was able to follow up his own grubber kick to score the opening try within the second minute. Hodgson added the extras to make it 0-6.
A penalty on half way in the following set gained the Wolves more field position to attack for the second time but the Wildcats were able to wrap up the visitors and earn themselves possession and a chance with ball in hand.
Play then evened out with a period of end-to-end sets, both defensive lines able to keep the attack out.
A Wakefield fumble on halfway following a kick downfield handed advantage back to the Wolves. Myler made a break early into the set and with Ratchford in support the visitors were over for their second on 12 minutes. Hodgson added the conversion from in front of the posts to extend the lead to 0-12.
A knock-on by Higham early into the restart handed the Wildcats the opportunity they needed and with play switching to the left, space opened up for Sykes to force his way over for the touchdown on 15 minutes. He converted his own try to narrow the gap to 6-12.
18 minutes in and the Wolves were over again with Atkins taking a pass from Myler to cross for his second. Grix and Westwood took the Wolves close down the right and the visitors earned a repeat set after the ball was knocked out of Westwood's hands but not capitalised on by the home side. Play continued and quick hands to the left opened up space for the third Wolves score. Hodgson added the conversion 6-18.
A high shot on the Wolves in the following set handed the visitors the next score on a plate. Pace down the right opened up a try in the corner for Joel Monaghan who took a well-timed pass from Grix on the inside. The touchline conversion was added by Hodgson 6-24.
The Wildcats built some pressure as the sun broke through at the Rapid Solicitors but the Wolves kept the home side out. Play then switched ends and the Wolves' kick and resultant chase forced a drop-out for the Wildcats. On 28 minutes Atkins looked keen to touch down for his hat-trick but lost the ball before he could ground it safely over the try line.
The momentum of the game was under the control of Warrington as the final 10 minutes of the half got underway but when in possession the Wildcats continued to pose some threats to the visitors.
A penalty for interfering in the tackle saw the Wildcats cross for their second through Fox down the right wing. The ball was kept alive and quick hands drew in the defence to open up space for the winger in the corner on 33 minutes. Sykes missed the touchline conversion nudging the home side closer 10-24.
The wind carried the Wolves' kick-off out on the full handing the Wildcats the attack from half way. Aiton took the home side forward to within 30 metres but a knock-on a few tackles later put paid to that and the Wolves were back in play.
A high Wolves' kick on the last was caught in the wind and left to bounce. The Wildcats were first to react and an outside ball to Fox saw him power down the field, breaking away from the chasing defence to cross to the right of the posts with three minutes of the first half remaining. Sykes added the conversion to make it 16-24.
On the back foot another Wolves' restart travelled out on the full giving the home side late control in the first half. On this occasion the Wolves' defence held up and the Wildcats kick through nudged out of play.
This is how the first half ended with the Wolves in front but the Wildcats edging closer. 16-24.
Ratchford kicked off from the restart and the Wolves looked set to regain possession as the ball bounced kindly, but Riley outran it and a scrum was awarded to Wakefield.
The Wolves conceded a penalty for offside early on. The Wildcats came close through Collis down the right and Aiton who attempted to crawl over the line under the posts just seconds later. The set came to a close when play was carried out to the left and the pass was too strong going into touch. But it was the home side building up pressure once again on the back of a Wolves' error in the next set.
The Wolves continued to be on the back foot in the opening stages of the second half with their defence being tested to the full. On 52 minutes the Wolves' line was broken by Lyne who powered over for the fourth Wildcats try. Sykes added the extra to take the home side to within two points. 22-24.
As the final quarter approached the Wolves were able to acquire some ball and went on to score their fifth through Joel Monaghan on the right. The ball travelled from Hodgson to Grix before Monaghan crossed in the corner. Hodgson's conversion attempt was short nudging the visitors ahead 22-28.
Ratchford added to the Wolves' points tally on 66 minutes. The visitors gained possession following a Wakefield knock-on and from there they peppered the line. Cooper was held up next to the left post before Ratchford took the pass to fly over to the right. Hodgson added the extras. 22-34.
This try triggered a surge from the Wolves as they regained some momentum. A break from Hodgson opened up space for Myler to then run over 50 metres to the line to score under the sticks. Another converted try by Hodgson extended the score to 22-40 with just over 10 minutes remaining.
But the Wildcats weren't to be outdone and Kyle Wood soon responded with a try for the home side. The scrambling defence tried to halt the Wakefield attack but Wood had the final say touching down for a try to the left of the posts. The boot of Sykes added the extras. 28-40.
Sykes backed this up following a kick and chase. He converted his own try to close the gap further 34-40 with five minutes remaining.
Hodgson then saw an opportunity to nudge the Wolves ahead with a successful drop goal attempt on 77 minutes. 34-41.
This is how the game ended with the Wolves holding onto the lead they'd secured throughout the full 80 minutes.
Wolves' head of coaching and rugby Tony Smith said: "It was mixed; a bit all over the place, some good some bad...Our attack was good but our defence is still way off at the moment. We knew our defence would get tested as they are a good attacking team. They've got some really good, sharp players with some experience and we knew they were going to ask some questions; we would have liked to have come up with some better answers ourselves.
"There was some improvement (from last week) definitely in attack; we put on some good plays today whereas we probably didn't ask as many questions in the first half last week as we asked all game today. I was pleased with the attack today; we asked a fair few questions, controlled the ball and our kicking game, whilst it wasn't top notch, it was a whole lot better than last week.
"We've got some stuff we need to address; we are not shying away from some of our defences we certainly conceded a few there today, some opportunist tries as well...We shot away to a healthy lead there and it would have been nice to close them out for the back end of the game...The last five, ten minutes was good experience for other games."
And on how we've come through the game.
"I think Simon Grix has rolled his ankle; he was struggling to finish off the game but I reckon he should be okay for next week if we need him. Danny Bridge was very close to playing this week; his form for Swinton has been so good he will more than likely get a shot next week and a couple of others might do too. We won't play anyone injured next week. Bridgey's (Chris) had a bit of a set back; he was very close for a comeback this weekend with his hamstring but tweaked it again so we will err on the side of caution and see how he responds to treatment."
Lee Smith, Peter Fox, Dean Collis, Reece Lyne, Ben Cockayne, Paul Sykes, Tim Smith, Andy Raleigh, Paul Aiton, Oliver Wilkes, Vince Mellars, Danny Kirmond, Danny Washbrook
Subs: Ali Lauitiiti, Kyle Wood, Kyle Amor, Chris Annakin
Tries: Sykes (2), Fox (2), Lyne, Wood
Goals: Sykes (5)
Brett Hodgson, Chris Riley, Ryan Atkins, Simon Grix, Joel Monaghan, Stefan Ratchford, Richie Myler, Mike Cooper, Micky Higham, Chris Hill, Trent Waterhouse, Ben Westwood, Ben Currie
Subs: Michael Monaghan, Ben Harrison, Paul Wood, Garreth Carvell
Tries: Atkins (2), Ratchford (2), J Monaghan (2), Myler
Goals: Hodgson (6)
Drop Goal: Hodgson
Game Pics Below (courtesy of Bob Brough)
14, Apr, 2013