Super League: Warrington Wolves just edge out Catalan Dragons
By Rob Lancaster. Last Updated: 01/08/14 11:23pm
Warrington got back to winning ways in Super League with a hard-fought 26-24 triumph over Catalan Dragons at a sodden Stade Gilbert Brutus.
Ahead of their Tetley's Challenge Cup semi-final showdown with Leeds next weekend, the Wolves - smarting from successive defeats to Widnes and Wakefield - became just the third away team to win in Perpignan this season.
Brothers Michael Monaghan and Joel Monaghan both crossed for tries for the visitors, with Gene Ormsby and Rhys Evans also touching down in a see-saw match that saw Warrington always just in front.
It meant a hat-trick from Michael Oldfield ended up being in a losing cause, meaning the Dragons failed to put a little daylight between themselves and those just below them in the table in the battle to finish in the top eight.
Warrington, who held a 12-6 lead at the break, were made to work hard right through to the final hooter to follow in the footsteps of Leeds and Wigan in returning from the south of France with two precious points gained.
Michael Monaghan marked his return to the team by wrestling his way over from close range to break the deadlock, despite the attention of three defenders, then set up his side’s second try when his cut-out pass allowed Ormsby to dot down out wide.
In between Oldfield grabbed his first of the night, though handling errors stopped the Dragons from adding further points as the wet conditions made keeping hold of possession rather tricky.
Their cause was not helped by their inability to stay on the right side of referee Richard Silverwood, and a swinging arm that made contact with Joel Monaghan - much to the obvious frustration of his coach, Tony Smith, on the sidelines - allowed Chris Bridge to extend Warrington's advantage soon after the interval.
As would become the pattern in the second half, Les Catalans responded each time they conceded points by going down the other end and narrowing the gap.
Elliott Whitehead was denied a try by Gareth O'Brien's outstretched arm but there was no stopping Gregory Mounis when he picked up from dummy half and crashed over underneath the uprights, leaving Thomas Bosc an easy kick.
Rhys Evans restored the eight-point gap by getting on the end of Bridge's kick into the in-goal area, with the Warrington player then putting his boot to good effect again to slot over the conversion from out wide.
Bosc did the same when Oldfield finished off a flowing team move on the right, yet a fortunate richochet saw O'Brien's kick break kindly for Stefan Ratchford, who duly laid on a try for the impressive Joel Monaghan.
Bridge maintained his perfect kicking record, but the Wolves were made to sweat for their win right through to the final hooter after Oldfield dived to get on the end of Bosc's grubber with eight minutes to play. That, though, was all the Dragons could manage, meaning they are left looking nervously over their shoulder with three rounds to play.
The Wolves, meanwhile, will be delighted to have found some form again at such a key stage of the campaign as they bid to make it back to Old Trafford. Next up is a clash with the Rhinos, the same opponents they defeated in 2010 and 2012 to claim the famous old trophy, to decide if they will make it to Wembley this year.