In a repeat of the 2019 Coral Challenge Cup Final, Warrington faced St Helens at the Halliwell Jones Stadium as the reigning Champions looked to make it two wins out of two, with Wire looking to make amends for last weeks defeat.
Just minutes before kick-off Alex Wamsley dropped out of the Saints line-up due to suffering a torn calf in the warm-up. This meant that Joe Batchelor moved up to the bench as Matty Lees started at prop.
The game started with plenty of heavy hits, knock ons and penalties as both sides looked to work there way into the game.
Warrington were the ones penalised the mosts and after multiple penalties just metres from their own line, Saints looked to take full advantage but Jonny Lomax’s pass couldn’t quite connect with Jack Welsby as the home-side were relieved.
A high kick from Blake Austin looked comfortable for Welsby to gather, but the young full-back dropped the ball to put Wire in good field position. Louis McCarthy-Scarsbrook made sure that Austin wouldn’t get himself over the line and conceded a penalty after catching the half-back high.
Stefan Ratchford decided to slow the game down and put Wolves 2-0 up after a ferocious first 18 minutes.
Warrington pushed their way back up the field after a few errors from the visitors, and Daryl Clark found himself over the whitewash after burrowing from just a metre out. Video Referee, James Child, decided to agree with the on-field decision of no try by Chris Kendall who believed the hooker had been held up.
Matty Ashton very nearly did push Wire ahead as he broke through James Bentley, however, after being brought down short by Theo Fages, the former Swinton Lion passed after being tackled and conceded a penalty.
Daryl Clark finally got himself the try that he’s been looking for as he once again skipped out from dummy-half and dotted the ball down for the first try of the game.
The physicality of the game never seemed to lower as the game passed the half an hour mark and a huge run from Murdoch-Masila put the home-side on the front foot in the very next attacking set.
Ben Currie tapped back Austin’s high kick, the ball was collected by Ratchford and offloaded to Toby King, who then released Tom Lineham to power over Matty Ashworth and score in the corner.
In the final seconds of the half, Austin decided to push Wire even further ahead as he dropped a goal for a 13-0 lead at the break.
HALF-TIME: Warrington Wolves 13-0 St Helens
Saints started the second half with another injury worry as Mark Percival hadn’t recovered from his knock from Murdoch-Masila in the opening 40.
Jack Welsby started pulling the strings for Saints and earned a repeat set after catching Ashton inside the in-goal. Kevin Naiqama believed he was about to cross the line but Ratchford came across and made sure the Fijian was in touch and stopped the ball hitting the floor.
Despite a slightly positive start, it was certainly Warrington’s night as Josh Charnley received a beautiful pass from Ashton in a two on one situation to canter in for a try.
With an hour gone, another penalty for Warrington left them within 30 metres of the Saints line once more.
Saints failed to deal with Austin’s early kick across field and a knock-on gave the home side scrum just 10 metres out. However, Ratchford’s looping pass out to Lineham was too long.
For the first time of the game, Warrington seemed to be on the back foot after conceding multiple penalties. Naiqama tried a kick over the top of the Wire defence but Ben Currie snuffed it out and raced up the field.
Matty Lees was certainly causing a stir with the opposition as his swinging arm tackle on Mike Cooper caused players from both sides to start pushing and shoving.
The penalty was awarded to the Wolves for the initial tackle from Lees and Ratchford converted from 45 metres out for a 19-0 lead.
With two minutes to go, Saints, and referee Chris Kendall believed the Saints had scored. Jonny Lomax ducked and dived his way over the line and looked to have avoided the whitewash. However, the ball was held up by four Warrington defenders after a video referee decision overturned the on-field call.
Too many errors from St Helens on the night proved costly as Warrington took the chances that came their way. Steve Price will certainly be proud of the way his players shut out Welsby, Fages and Lomax who couldn’t create any major chances for the visitors.
This is the first time that Saints have lost in Super League since London Broncos defeated them in Round 23 last season, and they first time they have failed to score since 2017 when they lost to close rivals Wigan Warriors 25-0.
FULL-TIME: Warrington Wolves 19-0 St Helens
Man of the Match: Daryl Clark
Any Warrington playing could have picked up the award on the night, but the hooker controlled his forward pack brilliantly in a physical battle. He deserved more than just the one try he picked up. His dynamic playing style and defensive qualities was just one of the reasons St Helens couldn’t break down the Wolves.
Ashton, Lineham, King, Gelling, Charnley, Austin, Ratchford, Philbin, D. Clark, Cooper, Currie, Murdoch-Masila, J. Clark
Interchanges: Akauola, Davis, Walker, Burrell
Tries: D. Clark, Lineham, Charnley
Goals: Ratchford (3/5)
Welsby, Naiqama, Costello, Percival, Grace, Lomax, Fages, Lees, Bentley, Thompson, Taia, Payroux, McCarthy-Scarsbrook
Interchanges: Ashworth, Paulo, Smith, Batchelor
Referee: C. Kendall
Touch Judges: J. Smith, L. Moore
Video Referee: J. Child
Image: @seriousaboutrl (twitter)