By Barry Andrews
Attendance: 10, 015
Warrington Wolves put in a comprehensive second-half display to ease past Catalans Dragons at The Halliwell Jones Stadium and extend the gap between the two teams in the Super League table.
The tie between second and third in the league was largely a defensive battle in the first half as the Wire went in 12-4 ahead at the break before turning on the style in the second half to run out comfortable winners.
Brilliant individual tries in the opening 40 minutes from Daryl Clark and Blake Austin gave Warrington the advantage at the interval before further scores from Bryson Goodwin, Sitaleki Akauola and Josh Charnley ensured the victory.
It was an afternoon which saw academy star Josh Thewlis make his debut at fullback for the Wire, becoming the second youngest player to do so in the Super League for the club at the age of just 17 years and 24 days.
Josh Thewlis, Jack Johnson, Bryson Goodwin, Toby King, Josh Charnley, Blake Austin, Declan Patton, Chris Hill, Daryl Clark, Mike Cooper, Ben Currie, Jack Hughes, Joe Philbin
Subs: Matt Davis, Ben Murdoch-Masila, Jason Clark, Sitaleki Akauola
Tries: Clark, Austin, Goodwin, Akauola, Charnley
Goals: Patton (7)
Tony Gigot, Arthur Romano, David Mead, Samisoni Langi, Fouad Yaha, Sam Tomkins, Matty Smith, Mickael Simon, Michael Mcllorum, Sam Moa, Matt Whitley, Ben Garcia, Julian Bousquet
Subs: Lambert Belmas, Benjamin Julien, Jason Baitieri, Sam Kasiano.
Tries: Fouad Yaha
There was an early take for Josh Thewlis to deal with just three minutes into the game who immediately looked very composed under his first high ball of the afternoon.
The first penalty was awarded to the Wire five minutes in after the Catalans’ defence took Thewlis out in the air in his own half. After a few hit ups Blake Austin tried a kick in behind but it was too strong and went over the dead ball line.
Joe Philbin then almost went over for the opening score but was stopped just short of the line by Matty Smith after finding a gap in the Dragons’ defence.
The first try of the game went the way of the away side as a mistake by Wire on their own try line gave Catalans another set of six just 10 metres out. From the resulting set the Wire defence was unable to stop Fouad Yaha going over in the corner after a looping pass from Smith. Sam Tomkins was unable to add the extras.
Catalans almost doubled their lead shortly after but good defensive cover by Josh Charnley took the ball over the try line for a goal-line drop-out.
The game then sparked into life for Warrington on 31 minutes as Daryl Clark went over underneath the sticks after a brilliant solo run breaking the line 25 metres out. Dec Patton then put the Wire ahead with the following conversion.
It was to be a great end to the first half for Warrington as Blake Austin darted over for his 18th try of the season with a brilliant fend-off to Tony Gigot. Patton added the extras to extend the lead to eight at half time.
Patton extended the lead just four minutes after the restart after Catalans were penalised for stripping the ball on the floor.
Wire then went close as Austin’s high kick on the final play of the set was gathered by Toby King who then tried to stab it through for Charnley to run onto but the Dragons’ defence were back quickly to gather.
After the hour mark both teams were unable to find any breaks in the defences with both standing strong.
Charnley almost scored on 64 minutes but was held up over the try line. From the resulting play-the-ball a brilliant passing move along the line found Bryson Goodwin’s hands who then stepped inside and ran between two Catalans’ players to go over the line.
Sitaleki Akauola then got himself on the score sheet 10 minutes from time as he forced his way over from close range fending off three defenders and reaching out. Patton maintained his perfect record as he converted again.
Shortly after Charnley found himself in some space after Austin produced some magic to draw in the defenders. The winger then put a kick over the defenders which was missed by Smith over the line allowing Charnley to touch down. Patton again kicked the extras.
In the final minute Warrington pushed for another try and gained a penalty right in front of the sticks which Patton slotted over for the final points of the afternoon and to seal a comfortable 34-4 win.