Warrington Defy Conditions to Achieve Double Over Local Rivals Northwich
By David Jervis
Excellent second half display brings second consecutive five point win
In weather more typical of Murmansk than NW England, Warrington ended Northwich's run of seven consecutive victories with one of their best displays of the season. This was a victory of pragmatism. No champagne rugby but clinical execution of the tactics, dictated by the conditions. The five point win takes them to sixth place in North 1 West, just five points behind second placed Stockport.
Northwich opened the scoring in the first minutes of the game taking advantage of a string of penalties to gain a line out 5 metres from the Warrington line. The predictable catch and drive met surprising little Warrington resistance and the conversion put the visitors 7 points up.
Warrington responded with gusto, however, and patience and perseverance with crunching forward drives earning yards the hard way. With 20 minutes gone, a break from elusive centre Kieran Hughes on the half way line took Warrington deep into the Northwich 22 but the chance to put winger Max Caldwell over was declined. Fortunately, Warrington were still able to capitalise on the break when a few forward drives later skipper Downes crashed over from short range. Full back Darren Norman added the extras to equalise the scores.
A few minutes later Northwich conceded a penalty and were marched back a further 10 metres for dissent. Not content with this, further debate earned them a yellow and, 5 minutes later, a further yellow for persistent fouling. Warrington took advantage of Northwich's depleted state to put winger Max Caldwell over in the corner following a succession of well-controlled forward drives.
On the verge of half time, again on the end of patient forward driving, skipper Downes added his second try to give his team a 17-7 lead at the interval.
Almost immediately from the restart Northwich were penalised for a high tackle and with the strong wind now at his back full back Norman stretched the lead to 20-7. 10 minutes later Norman was marginally wide with another penalty attempt but the subsequent 22 drop-out proved disastrous for Northwich. The ball, kicked high into the gale, was blown backwards over the Northwich try line and pounced upon by the ever-alert Josh Riley. Norman again added the extras. 27-7.
Midway through the half, taking more advantage of the strong wind, stand-off Tom Wood showed his expanded repertoire by dropping a superb goal from 35 metres out.
With 10 minutes to go a bit of fractiousness crept into proceedings after exception was taken to a tackle by winger Caldwell. The referee was unperturbed by this initial incident but did take exception to a retaliatory punch by Jack Hannon (red) and a high tackle by Sean Callander (yellow) which followed shortly afterwards.
Warrington's thirteen men defended stoutly for the rest of the game to deny Northwich any further score.
Coach Andy Roberts was impressed by the victory. "These were extremely difficult conditions for the lads today and dictated that we play more of a forward game than we usually do. We are fortunate to have had our front row squad strengthened by the arrival of new recruit Nick Povey and the return of Tom Green from Guatamala, where he has been getting the local youth involved in Rugby League.