Warrington host Salford at the Halliwell Jones Stadium and look to extend their 6 game unbeaten streak against the Red Devils when playing at home. Salford go into the match with 11 wins in their last 12 games, while Warrington come in off the back of a bruising 40-0 loss at Leeds and a draw with Wigan at the Magic Weekend.
LAST TIME OUT
Warrington went into their Round 15 clash with Leeds off the back of a high scoring draw with Wigan, and despite the Warriors being a mid-table standard side this season, Warrington looked to have set their season back on the right path. They looked to have carried on in the same vein at the start of their battle with Leeds; the visitors held the Rhinos scoreless for the first 14 minutes of the game, before Matt Parcell finished off a well-worked move that he set up down the short side. Sutcliffe added the extras, and then proceeded to add another try to the Rhino’s tally 15 minutes later, taking the hosts 10 points in front. Soon after, Sutcliffe added a penalty goal to extend the Rhinos’ lead to 12 heading into the sheds at half time.
Leeds continued to dominate the weary Warrington side, which offered very little in attack against a resolute Leeds defence. Leeds scored just 4 minutes into the second half, once again through Parcell, who was followed over the whitewash by club legend Jamie Jones Buchanan just five minutes later. Joel Moon added another before Parcell completed his hat trick ten minutes from time. Rob Burrow topped off Leeds’ performance with a try at the death, sending the hosts home with a 40-point victory.
Salford went into their Round 15 clash with Catalans off the back of 5 games unbeaten. Understandably, the AJ Bell was brimming with emotion in the aftermath of the terrorist attack at the Mancherster Arena. Salford undoubtedly thrived off the passion within the stadium in a performance that was one of their best this season.
They carried on in the same rich vein of form as they had left off against Leigh, going 28-0 up with 5 tries in the first half. Kris Brining continued Salford’s dominance just 2 minutes into the second half and Michael Dobson added the extras to extend Salford’s lead to 34 points. Catalans soon replied in the form of Vincent Duport, just before Robert Lui scored an 80m effort worthy of a Try of the Season award. Salford continued to add insult to injury, scoring through Olsi Krasniqi and Mark Flanagan, before Fouad Yaha added a consolation for the visitors. Salford’s comprehensive win at home puts them in great shape coming into their Round 16 clash against Warrington.
Warrington are playing low on confidence and will need their big names to stand up and be counted, as they’ve done very little to help their side out this season. The loss of Kurt Gidley is key, and whoever fills in for the Australian will need to have a big game. By contrast, the Red Devils will be high on confidence and need to keep playing on their strengths. The Salford playmakers have struck a great balance of flair and pragmatism this season, while the Warrington halves have struggled to perform well throughout. Jack Hughes, however, has been a positive presence in the Warrington side, and he will need to be at his best for the Wolves to win. Salford have their own talisman in Ben Murdoch-Masila, who proved very hard to stop this season and is now a pivotal player in the Salford side when providing invaluable points from the back row. Either of the back rowers can turn the game, and it’ll be down to them to inspire their pack to dominate the power game.
Warrington have been the most overrated side this season, as well as the most disappointing to watch, while the Red Devlis have been one of the most exciting sides in the league. The loss of Kurt Gidley will leave a big hole to fill for Warrington as they seem to lack direction without him in the halves, and after showing nothing against Leeds to suggest they will challenge top 4 teams this year, it’s hard to see how they can win against a high flying Salford side. However, Salford have had their lapses this season, namely against Catalans, Huddersfield and Wakefield, so they are not immune to switching off. It will be interesting to see how both sides hold up off only a 2 day break, but Salford should have too much in their locker off an easy win against Catalans. Salford by 8+
Warrington Wolves: 4. Ryan Atkins, 6. Kevin Brown, 9. Daryl Clark, 14. Mike Cooper, 17. Dominic Crosby, 15. Brad Dwyer, 8. Chris Hill, 12. Jack Hughes, 24. Benjamin Jullien, 16. George King, 2. Tom Lineham, 22. Declan Patton, 23. Joe Philbin, 1. Stephan Ratchford, 5. Matty Russell, 18. Andre Savelio, 10. Ashton Sims, 27. Morgan Smith, 13. Joe Westerman.
Salford Red Devils: 29. Jake Bibby, 20. Kris Brining, 29. Todd Carney, 7. Michael Dobson, 5. Niall Evalds, 13. Mark Flanagan, 30. James Hasson, 12. Weller Hauraki, 21. Greg Johnson, 8. Craig Kopczak, 16. Olsi Krasniqi, 15. Ryan Lannon, 6. Rob Lui, 11. Ben Murdoch-Masila, 1. Gareth O’Brien, 4. Junior Sa’u, 14. Lama Tasi, 9. Logan Tomkins, 22. Kris Welham