Warrington Wolves started the Super 8s with a resounding 56-6 win over a much-changed Catalans Dragons side.
This was seen to be a dress rehearsal for the Challenge Cup final in a fortnight, but with the visitors in particular having an eye on that game it wasn’t the most exciting contest.
The Wire were ahead after five minutes thanks to a wonderful piece of play from half-back Tyrone Roberts, who dummied his way through the Dragons line to pass the ball to winger Josh Charnley, who dived in for the Wolves’ first score.
Catalan had three repeat sets attacking the Warrington line, but the Primrose & Blue held firm and began to let rip on the very inexperienced Dragons side with three more tries before half-time.
Tom Lineham scored twice in the left hand corner and Mitch Brown then added another, with all of those scores converted by ‘new’ goal-kicker, Declan Patton who started ahead of Daryl Clark.
Kevin Brown was the first try scorer of the second period, followed by a fantastic link-up between him and half-back partner Roberts, with his kick latched onto by the Australian to score underneath the sticks.
It was beginning to become a bit like a training match for Wire, with the right edge partnership of Toby King and Josh Charnley impressing for the next try. Charnley proved he doesn’t just score tries but create them too, when he passed on his inside for the Irish international to score.
Patton was on top with his kicking game, converting eight of his ten kicks, he got himself a try too, receiving a pass from Bryson Goodwin after a terrific run from the former South Sydney man.
Joe Philbin’s scored an improvised try after linking with Kevin Brown, before David Mead went over for Catalans with six minutes left on the clock. With that converted, it was then hat-trick time for Tom Lineham to wrap up the win.
WHAT WE’VE LEARNED
Struggling in reserve
Catalans rested players in their last Super League game two weeks ago, but still managed to compete strongly at Wigan. They had no such luck this time though, as a side missing eight first-team players including Tony Gigot, Josh Drinkwater and Lewis Tierney, was blown away by the Wire.
Even the established players left in the team must have been tired from their efforts last weekend against St Helens, and coach Steve McNamara must find a way to rotate and keep his players fresh while maintaining some confidence ahead of what should be a more competitive final.
Warrington rested a few players themselves with Mike Cooper, Stefan Ratchford and Ben Murdoch-Masila. but they were still in impressive form running in ten tries.
Their place in the top four looks more secure now, and they should go travel to Wembley with great confidence on the back of this result. You can only beat what is in front of you, so full credit to Warrington for doing that in style.
Man of the Match – Tom Lineham (Warrington)
The winger scored two tries last weekend against Leeds in the Challenge Cup semi-final, and he notched a hat-trick this time round in an even more emphatic Warrington victory here to the Dragons of exactly what they will have to deal with at Wembley.
Warrington Wolves 56
Tries: Charnley, Lineham (3), M Brown, K Brown, Roberts, T King, Patton, Philbin
Goals: Patton (8)
Drop Goals: n/a
Catalans Dragons 6
Drop Goals: n/a
Warrington: M Brown; Lineham, T King, Goodwin, Charnley; K Brown, Roberts; Hill, Patton, Westwood; Livett, Hughes, Thompson.
Interchanges: Clark, Akauola, Philbin, G King.
Catalans: Brochon; Thornley, Mead, Duport, Martin; Mourgue, Albert; Simon, Da Costa, Maria; Perez, Goudemand, Baitieri.
Interchanges: Casty, Garcia, Margalet, Belmas.
Referee: Ben Thaler