Wolves run wild to justify their favourites tag

Warrington 40 Castleford 24
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The Independent Online

Warrington might be the least-changed team in Super League, but they showed in a first-half demolition of Castleford exactly why they are favourites to win it.

The Wolves have not signed a single new player this winter, but their tried and tested troops were good enough to give them a match-winning lead before a new-look Castleford could even get started.

Ben Westwood scored twice as he carried on his form from last season. "People are used to me raving on about him, but he deserves it," said his coach, Tony Smith.

As a whole, though, the Wolves were guilty of easing off and losing direction in the second half, although Smith preferred to compliment a gutsy effort from Castleford.

"I though Cas had a real dig," he said. "They've got some attacking ability this year and they will cause some problems."

Four tries in the first 13 minutes defined the early chasm between the quality of the two teams. Chris Riley began the rout when Ryan Atkins's pass was deflected into his hands.

If there was a touch of good fortune about that try, the second was pure class, started by Simon Grix's break from deep and finsihed by Atkins. Lee Briers's long, lofted pass then presented young Rhys Evans with a simple score.

Unlike the Wolves, Cas have invested in a number of new players for this season. One of the seven newcomers, Justin Carney, was responsible for the lost ball that resulted in Richie Myler sidestepping through for the fourth, before clever handling by Evans gave Westwood a first try at the start of his testimonial season.

Castleford's former man of steel, Rangi Chase, was trying hard to spark the Tigers, but all too often he misfired with some erratic passing.

Cas did manage two tries, from Carney and Michael Shenton, before half-time, although they were separated by one for the Wolves from Garreth Carvell. When Westwood scored his second a couple of minutes after the interval, Warrington looked certain to be one of the weekend's runaway winners.

It did not quite work out like that, with Cas stepping up their efforts and the home side going off the boil. The outcome was tries from Jake Webster and Richard Owen, with Jamie Ellis completing a haul of four goals.

"If we'd got one of two more tries, it could have been a great last 10 minutes," said the Castleford coach, Ian Millward. "I was proud of the players after they'd been so far behind so early.

"Our enthusiasm and toughness were good, but not always our execution."

Scorers: Warrington: Tries: Riley, Atkins, Evans, Myler, Westwood 2, Carvell Goals: Briers, Hodgson 5. Castleford: Tries: Carney, Shenton, Owen, Webster Goals: Ellis 4 Warrington: Hodgson; Riley, Atkins, Evans, J. Monaghan; Briers, Myler; Morley, M. Monaghan, Hill, Grix, Westwood, Harrison. Replacements: Carvell, Waterhouse, Higham, Ratchford. Castleford: Tansey; Carney, Shenton, Webster, Owen; Chase, Ellis; Mason, Milner, Huby, Gilmour, Hauraki, Holmes. Replacements: Walker, Clark, Massey, Millington. Referee: R Hicks (Oldham)