Speaking after their 26-12 loss to Wakefield yesterday, Warrington head coach Tony Smith admitted his team will now have to tough it out in the Qualifiers.
The 2016 league leaders have suffered a dramatic drop in form, similar to that of Leeds last season who were forced to play in the Qualifiers before coming back strongly this campaign.
Yesterday’s defeat was the Wolves 12th of a disastrous season. It leaves them three points behind eighth placed Wigan, who can extend that gap to five when they host Widnes today.
“The top eight is unlikely now,” Smith admitted. “We need some real twists and turns but all we can do is play our way in the remaining games and see what happens.
“If we don’t make it then we will have to do what Leeds did and roll our sleeves up and get on with it and come back stronger.”
On the match itself, Warrington were well in the contest going into the final quarter but numerous defensive sets saw them run out of steam against a plucky Wakefield side.
“I thought in the first half we defended pretty well,” said Smith. “Our goal-line defence and our try-line defence was pretty good, but I think it took its toll.
“All those tackles that we did in that half cost us in the end, in terms of energy, and that then affects your decision-making and you start to make errors.
“The second half just wasn’t good enough. I don’t want to take too much away from Wakefield though as they are a good team and they work hard for each other.”
To have a chance of making the top eight the Wolves must now win their three-remaining regular-season matches against Leigh, Wigan and local rivals Widnes.