The top of the table was the prize on offer for the Warrington Wolves if they could beat the Catalans Dragons who themselves knew a win wouldn’t likely improve their league position but would maintain their charge on the top four and a play-off place. Should the Catalans pick up a win then Warrington would tumble to fourth, promoting the Leeds Rhinos into third spot.
The Wolves were the clear favourites with the bookies, the Dragons being given a ten-point start on the handicap coupon. The odds reflected the comparative fortunes of the sides last weekend in the Challenge Cup, the Wolves beating the Saints while the Dragons lost to Salford in that golden try game.
A myriad of offloads from Warrington, keeping the ball alive, led to the opening try on eight minutes. Jake Mamo put the final pass into Anthony Gelling and the big centre went over the top of the Dragons tacklers to ground. Gareth Widdop, Stefan Ratchford being rested, added the extra two.
Twenty-three minutes in the Dragons registered their opener when the ball was moved wide left with Sam Tomkins putting in long ball for Tom Davies to slide over in the corner. James Maloney curled his touchline conversion between the uprights to level the scores, it was no less that Warrington deserved.
The Dragons hit the front just after the half hour after keeping the ball alive before Sam Tomkins passed to Samisoni Langi who crashed over in the left corner. Once again Maloney smashed his kick between the uprights, the Wolves stunned as the Dragons took a 12-6 lead.
With sixty seconds to spare before the interval the Wolves drew level. Matty Ashton was ideally placed to collect a Widdop grubber twenty from the sticks and go over for the fourth try of the night. Widdop added the conversion and the sides went into the interval locked up at 12-12.
The Wolves regained their lead with just five second half minutes on the clock. The Wolves returned a goal line drop out with interest, Matt Davis taking the ball from acting half back and muscling his way over the line. Widdop added the conversion.
Warrington were in again on fifty-five as Blake Austin took an inside pass off Matty Ashton to go over under the sticks, giving Widdop a simple conversion for 24-12. The Wolves had turned on the style at the start of the second half.
But the Dragons weren’t going to give up easily as Fouad Yaha was at the end of a right to left passing move to score in the corner. Maloney narrowly missed the conversion, Catalans behind by eight points.
James Maloney was sin-binned on seventy-five for a high tackle, effectively ending any hopes that the Dragons might have had of a late fightback win. On the next set Danny Walker put the game beyond the Frenchmen and lifted his side into top spot. Widdop kicked his fifth of the game, the points in the bag.
Not the best of nights for the Dragons who could point a finger at their compromised travel arrangements. But the perfect result for the Wolves as they jump ahead of St Helens into top spot, at least until Wigan played their final game of the round.
Warrington Wolves: Ashton (T), Charnley, Gelling (T), King, Mamo, Austin (T), Widdop (5G), Hill, Clark D, Cooper, Currie, Hughes, Clark J. Subs: Murdoch-Masila, Philbin, Davis (T), Walker (T).
Catalans Dragons: Tomkins S, Yaha (T), Folau, Langi (T), Davies (T), Drinkwater, Maloney (2G, SB on 75), Moa, McIlorum, Casty, Tomkins J, Whitley, Garcia. Subs: Jullien, Goudemand, Baitieri, Belmas.
Referee: Rob Hicks.
Half Time: 12-12.
Full Time: 30-16.
Venue: Halliwell Jones, Warrington.