After a forgettable start to the season, the Wire comes into their Round five game against Hull FC on the back of two consecutive victories, against Widnes and Wigan.
Rounds one and two are best forgotten, especially the performance at Huddersfield. The question on the mind of most Warrington fans though is which Wire will show up? Will it be the Warrington that showed weaknesses in defence and little in attack or the side with a little more resolve in defence and dynamic going forward? I’m thinking it will be the latter and here’s why.
Round one was against the Champions and Leeds defended like it was the Grand Final. Warrington showed good signs, but these were missing the next weekend. There was key personnel missing though in Round 2 and the weather was abject.
Move forward to Rounds 3/4, especially against Wigan, the partnerships were starting to show more promise, especially in the halves. Roberts had missed two games, and against Leeds had shown something, but also that he needed more time to get in sync with his new teammates. Shoot forward to the Wigan game, and there was an obvious improvement in the interplay and the reading of the game from his fellow players. It seemed that they’d learned where he wanted them.
Out wide, Mitch Brown seems more defensively able than Russell had, and on the other flank, Lineham and Goodwin had built a better bond. Goodwin’s kicking is also something to factor in as a positive for Warrington. At the back, Ratchford, who had struggled in the opening two games, was assured against Widnes and Man of The Match against Wigan, and deservedly so. Murcoch-Masila was at his rampaging best against the Cherry and Whites, and Akaoula made a promising debut. But not everything was rosy, including the injury to Currie and Brown’s concussion – both will be missing Friday.
Wire’s finishing has been poor. The score against Wigan flattered the visitors, who were as bad as I’ve seen them in a long while, because Warrington didn’t convert their chances. In a few months, when the games start to matter more, a failure to take opportunities as presented will be punished. Atkins was again guilty of white line fever, with a poorly dropped ball – Price’s reaction was evidence enough of his view. Creating chances is important, but converting them is critical if Warrington have any top 4 aspirations.
For Hull, they’ve had an inauspicious start to the season too. The loss in Australia to Wigan, and the effect the travel had against Castleford may have made them rue their decision. But a wounded Hull is a dangerous thing, especially at home,
and in the conditions that we expect i.e. bad. So much for summer rugby, it’ll be cold and possibly snowy and there will be no warm welcome from the vociferous local supporters. If Warrington don’t master the conditions it could be another “Huddersfield”.
My own view is it’ll be a close, hard-fought game. Time for Warrington to show a little steel and prove that they are not just a fair weather side.
Score prediction: Hull FC 16-20 Warrington Wolves