By Alan Domville (image by P&B Pictures)
New signing Josh Charnley made a dream debut for Warrington, scoring two tries as they fought back to defeat Widnes after trailing in the first half. His centre partner Toby King also touched down twice and there were also great tries for hard-working forwards Ben Westwood and Sitaleki Akauola.
It was Wire’s first double of the season, having already defeated the Vikings at the Halton Stadium last month – and their third win in succession keeping them among the front runners of Super League.
Ben Currie was back in action after recovering from injury while Widnes included ex Wire Sam Wilde in their line-up.
Stefan Ratchford, Tom Lineham, Bryson Goodwin, Toby King, Josh Charnley, Kevin Brown, Tyrone Roberts, Chris Hill, Daryl Clark, Mike Cooper, Ben Currie, Jack Hughes, Ben Westwood
Subs: Joe Philbin, Ben Murdoch-Masila, Sitaleki Akauola, Morgan Smith
Tries: T King (2), Charnley (2), Akauola, Westwood
Goals: Goodwin (4)
Rhys Hanbury, Stefan Marsh, Krisnan Inu, Charly Runciman, Ed Chamberlain, Joe Mellor, Tom Gilmore, Ted Chapelhow, Aaron Heremaia, Greg Burke, Chris Dean, Sam Wilde, Chris Houston
Subs: Jordan Johnstone, Tom Olbison, Brad Walker, Gil Dudson
Tries: Chamberlain (2), Hanbury
Goals: Inu (2), Gilmore
Stefan Ratchford kicked off towards the west stand and Ed Chamberlain had to push the ball dead, conceding possession to Warrington from a goal-line drop-out.
It triggered five minutes of constant pressure for the Wire that began with a great offload from Ben Westwood, a penalty award, a second set of six and a kick to the corner that forced another drop-out.
A pass to Charnley might have brought the winger an early score but King decided to go himself and was hauled down just short of the line while Westwood was unlucky soon afterwards when he crossed the line and appeared to have touched down but was ruled to have knocked on by the referee.
All the pressure failed to yield points and it was Widnes who went ahead on 14 minutes when Tom Gilmore and Charly Runciman combined to send Chamberlain over the whitewash in the corner. Krisnan Inu’s conversion attempt from the touchline sailed well wide.
Gil Dudson, often a thorn in the Wire’s side, came into the fray but he was penalised with his first tackle on Tyrone Roberts.
Chris Houston offloaded to the lively Gilmore who split the home defence and forced Wire to drop-out from the sticks.
And then Chamberlain struck again, collecting another pass from Runciman for a carbon copy second touchdown – and this time Inu’s kick was on target.
Widnes were ahead 10-0 and Warrington had work to do – but intent was expressed immediately by Ben Murdoch-Masila who came on for Mike Cooper who had already impressed with his tackling; BMM made a determined drive before being tackled by Runciman from which the Wire were awarded a penalty.
Warrington made their pressure pay on 34 minutes when King took a pass from Roberts and touched down.
No Goodwin goal but Wire were looking good again and four minutes later King was in for his second after Widnes had conceded a penalty for unwanted attention on Chris Hill. This time Goodwin was successful with his kick and the scores were level.
Just before the interval the Wire were penalised for obstruction on their own 40-metre line; Widnes elected to go for goal and Inu gave them a 12-10 lead.
Could Warrington now stage a repeat of their second-half fightback against Wakefield a week earlier?
It certainly looked like it when they went ahead for the first time in the first minute and it was new boy Charnley who thrilled the home fans with the try they had been waiting for.
Brown sent the ball high into the air towards the right corner, Ratchford palmed the ball back to King and the centre served Charnley who dived over. Goodwin added the extras from the touchline and the Wire were ahead 16-12.
Widnes hit back and Inu started a dangerous looking assault on the Warrington line; the New Zealander was there at the end of the set but was injured by Goodwin’s vital tackle. After treatment he insisted on continuing but had to limp off a couple of minutes later.
The Wire then responded when Brown and Cooper combined well to set up a scoring opportunity but possession was surrendered.
Sitaleki Akauola entered the fray and within three minutes he scooped up the ball from a chargedown and raced 30 metres through the visitors’ defence to score a fine try. Goodwin goaled to open up a 10-point lead and there was more to come.
Charnley was the hero yet again after Ratchford, Brown and Roberts kept the ball alive and King put the man in the orange boots over again – crashing his way over two defenders.
Goodwin’s kick hit the post but Warrington were in the driving seat now and a Jack Hughes kick to the line forced another drop-out.
Ben Westwood settled the issue when he crowned his fine display by racing under the sticks. Goodwin converted to make it 32-12.
Widnes had the last word, however, when Rhys Hanbury raced through a tired defence after taking a pass from Wilde. Gilmore converted.