Warrington Wolves had a rebranding operation this week, reverting to their traditional name of The Wire, and the 17 players on duty tonight at the Halliwell Jones Stadium followed suit, with a display that contrasted with what they had served up for much of the season to thrill their supporters with a 17-6 victory against Wigan Warriors.
The Wolves came into the game with eight players unavailable through suspension or injury, including captain Joel Monaghan, and they gave a debut off the bench to young second rower Sam Wilde.
But perhaps the most significant absentee for the evening was Wigan skipper Sean O’Loughlin, with the Warriors returning to their old habit of being unable to win without their talismanic captain.
The Wolves got on the scoresheet after twelve minutes with a remarkable try from Richie Myler, who kicked through the Wigan defence and then kicked the ball again into the air over Wigan fullback Matty Bowen and re-gathered it in one move to touch down. Gareth O’Brien’s goal gave Warrington a six-point lead.
Warrington’s spirit was on display when Taulima Tautai put Wigan prop Lee Mossop through to the line and looking certain to score, only for Ryan Atkins to get his body under the ball.
O’Brien stretched the Wolves’ lead two minutes before the interval with a field-goal, and then Wolves substitute Brad Dwyer, who had an outstanding game, put Atkins through a gap with a superbly judged pass for their second try and O’Brien’s second conversion gave Warrington a half-time lead of 13-0.
Dwyer almost scored a third try, but he was denied by a great tackle from Bowen, but Wigan couldn’t stop O’Brien shortly afterwards, although the halfback this time couldn’t add the goal.
Wigan didn’t give up, however, and winger Dom Manfredi pulled a try back after 56 minutes when he touched down Matty Smith’s kick to the corner. Bowen added the touchline conversion but that was the end of the scoring although not of the Warrington supporters’ jubilation.
A full report, photos and comment on this game will feature in Monday’s edition of League Express.
Wolves: T – Myler (12), Atkins (40), O’Brien (52); G – O’Brien 2/3; FG – O’Brien (38)
Warriors: T – Manfredi (57); G – Bowen 1/1
Half-time: 13-0 Attendance: 10,504