Wolves forwards close gap on leaders

Warrington 28 Huddersfield 2

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The Independent Online

Warrington cut Huddersfield’s lead at the top of Super League to a single point as they adapted far better to the Arctic conditions at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.

Stefan Ratchford scored two tries and Brett Hodgson 16 points from a try and six goals from as many attempts, but the real heroes of the tundra were the Wolves forwards, who rolled their sleeves up – even at the risk of frostbite – and got the job done.

By general consent, the Warrington pack went missing against St Helens in their last home match. Last night, they warmed rapidly to their task and always looked in control.

“They handled the conditions better than we did and eventually we were worn down by sheer weight of possession,” said the Giants’ coach, Paul Anderson. “All the people who travelled across the Pennines to support us deserve a medal.”

The Warrington groundstaff kept the pitch-markings clear, despite snow throughout the game. Not the lazy stuff that falls straight down, either, but eager flurries chasing each other around the ground in all directions.

“It was good old traditional winter  rugby league,” said Warrington’s Brian Smith. “But we should have a different-coloured ball for these conditions.”

Danny Brough put the Giants ahead with a penalty, but generally speaking they made too many mistakes in atrocious conditions for ball handling. Warrington kept their passing short and simple and were rewarded when they moved the ball along the line for Chris Riley to score on the left wing.

Hodgson landed that goal and also a penalty, to the chagrin of Smith, who dislikes that as a tactic.  Their best attacking moment came when Ryan Atkins slipped Shaun Lunt’s tackle to split the visitors’ defence and used Chris Bridge as the link to supply Ratchford with his first touch-down.

His second came when Richie Myler’s kick caused chaos in the Giants defence, which could only palm the ball down for him to ground the ball again. Hodgson completed the damage to his old club’s early season  supremacy by coming into the line to claim the fourth try, tagging on his sixth goal for good measure.

Warrington Hodgson; Riley, Bridge, Atkins, J Monaghan; Ratchford, Myler; Carvell, M Monaghan, Hill, Simon Grix, Westwood, Cooper. Substitutes used: Waterhouse, Currie, Higham, Wood.

Huddersfield: Scott Grix; McGilvary, Cudjoe, Wardle, Murphy; Brough, Robinson; Fielden, Lunt, Kopczak, Ferres, Ferguson, Fairbank. Substitutes used: Crabtree, Faiumu, Patrick, Cording

Referee: B Thaler (Wakefield)