Image courtesy of Warrington Guardian
Warrington Wolves travelled to the South of France for their opening game of the new campaign against Catalans Dragons.
The Wolves opened the scoring on nine minutes with some great play along the line. Gids put in the final pass to Savelio who found the gap to score the opening points. Patton’s boot was on target to add the conversion.
On 24 minutes though the Dragons were over. A kick to the Wolves’ right edge was left to bounce over the head of Evans who still managed to collect but responded with a wayward pass back inside, Myler on hand to collect and run in for the try in the corner. No conversion was added though. 4-6
The scores were made level at the break after back-to-back penalties conceded by the Wolves handed the Dragons a chance at goal. Walsh adding the two.
The second half opened in the Dragons’ favour; an early sin-bin for Lineham – after a team warning in the first half – opened up space. Eight minutes into the half and Bird was over finding the gap on the back of a penalty. Walsh added to the lead with his goal 12-6.
The Dragons nudged further ahead with 10 minutes left on the clock when they opted to kick for goal with a penalty.
In the closing stages the Wolves gave themselves some hope with a try in the corner for Evans, converted by Patton (14-12) but the Dragons had other ideas pushing to the end and Williame forced his way over with seconds to go. Walsh’s goal made it 20-12.
By Rachel Arnett
Brayden Williame, Jodie Broughton, Krisnan Inu, Vincent Duport, Fouad Yaha, Luke Walsh, Richie Myler, Sam Moa, Paul Aiton, Remi Casty, Benjamin Garcia, Justin Horo, Greg Bird
Subs: Julian Bousquet, Thomas Bosc, Jason Baitieri, Mickael Simon
Tries: Myler, Bird, Williame
Goals: Walsh (4)
Matty Russell, Rhys Evans, Toby King, Ryan Atkins, Tom Lineham, Declan Patton, Kurt Gidley, Mike Cooper, Daryl Clark, Ashton Sims, Andre Savelio, Jack Hughes, Joe Westerman
Subs: Brad Dwyer, Dominic Crosby, Harvey Livett, Joe Philbin
Tries: Savelio, Evans
Goal: Patton (2)
The Dragons’ defence started with some big hits, forcing an early knock-on. A number of other errors slipped in for the Wolves early doors in the form of offside and a high shot.
But the defence was on hand to counteract this, Evans read the Dragons’ play well to intercept down his right edge.
Broughton then did the same at the opposite end of the field as the Wolves took play out to the left.
On eight minutes the home side were pulled up for offside; a second penalty soon followed and from this, the ball passed along the line through many hands, Gidley putting in the pass to send Savelio through the gap for the first points. Patton was on target with the kick to add the extras. 0-6
Knocks-on from both sides and it was a chance for the Wolves down the left. Russell did well to keep a hold of the ball before a flick pass to Lineham on the edge but the fingertips couldn’t quite get to it.
The defence stepped up once again when, after a high shot on Casty by Hughes edged the Dragons closer, Gidley stepped in to land on the ball and regain possession.
The next few calls didn’t go in the Wolves’ favour; King and Duport made the leap for the same ball on the last and King was ruled to have taken him out. Cooper then put in a high shot on Walsh. Now 24 minutes in and the Dragons responded with a try. A kick to the Wolves’ right edge was left to bounce over the head of Evans who still managed to collect but responded with a wayward pass back inside, Myler on hand to collect and run in for the try in the corner. No conversion was added. 4-6
Determination in defence handed possession back to the Dragons; a grubber kick from Walsh was taken out of play and an intercept attempt by Patton saw the ball patted down.
A few repeat penalties as half time approached and the Dragons opted to go for goal. Walsh added the two to level the score at the break.
Early in the second half the Wolves went down to 12 men when Lineham was sent to the sin bin. A team warning had been issued in the first half following a number of repeat penalties.
Russell fumbled the high ball after the kick and Lineham’s defence was deemed illegal and the yellow was shown. The Dragons then lost possession through their own error in the next set.
On 47 minutes the Dragons took the lead. Starting the set from the scrum, space opened up for Bird to score. The kick was added this time 12-6
The Wolves withstood the next periods of pressure from the Dragons and came up with some fine play setting up Patton’s boot for a 40/20. The Dragons were then pulled up for interference at play the ball. The pass from right to left, through Sims under the posts went to ground though.
A penalty against the Wolves for holding down with 10 minutes left on the clock saw the Dragons go for goal to widen the gap to 14-6.
Chancing their arm came good for the visitors. They were unlucky when a long pass out to the left edge was too far in front for Lineham and out of play. But a few minutes later and a score came down the opposite side; Evans finding space to ground the ball in the corner. No pressure felt as Patton slotted over the extras 14-12.
But the Dragons had other ideas as they still pushed for a bigger win playing the set out close to the line. Williame managed to force his way over in the tackle. The try, on 80 minutes, was given on the pitch and the video ref agreed. Walsh was on target too to make the final score 20-12.
Head of coaching and rugby Tony Smith said: “It was a pretty average game standard wise. There were too many errors, too many handling errors and too many penalties from us. It’s a tough place to come to and get your fair share; it’s always like that and we know that before we come – you’ve got to be good when you’ve got it. You don’t get many opportunities to attack with the ball in good areas of the park so when you do you’ve got to be better at it. I was really proud of my boys’ efforts defensively though. I thought they were terrific. We had a bit of a brain explosion from Rhys in the first half but aside from that we didn’t look like we were going to get scored against so that was pleasing. The next try came when we were down to 12 men and kept turning the ball over in our own quarter line; it had to crack eventually but I was proud of their efforts defensively. And then the one right at the back end of the game after a second tackle error again to try and win the game; we need to be better than that, we need to execute even when we get last chances to steal games we need to be better. Unfortunately not today but we will go away and work hard and learn some lessons from it. In terms of a game I haven’t seen a high quality yet from any team so far.
“We’ve got a game against Brisbane next week so we can go and put some things back into play then and hopefully get some troops back as well. We’ve still got some names on the side-lines at the moment; we might have Bennie Westwood and Kev Brown back next week, they are a possibility, but we are still a few weeks off with Hilly and Stef so we still have a few players to return. We’d like to have come here and pinched a victory and we gave ourselves a chance to do that even up to the last couple of minutes. We are certainly not satisfied but we are also not disillusioned by ourselves.
“We lost Toby early in the game; he’s come up with a hamstring strain so Harvey got on and played a lot longer than intended on debut but I thought he handled it really well. And then we lost Dom Crosby with a head injury as well so we were down to two on the bench which made it tough for rotation; saying that I thought physically we did okay the players on the park looked well-conditioned, worked hard in defence and for each other it was just some of the execution – the skill in passing and catching – from both teams was pretty average.
“For Catalans to score there on our try line (at the end) was a big risk; it was big play had that gone into one of our hands…It was one of those occasions when you don’t actually need to score again and the risk of scoring could have out-weighed taking points.
“I thought our best on the park was Joe Westerman. I thought Andre was strong for us too and caught the eye, he gave us a spark in attack at times. We were just not consistent across the board but we’d hope to get that in the next week or two.”