Ben Westwood put in an excellent performance in his 400th appearance; rolling back the years to help Warrington record a 52-24 win at the Halliwell Jones Stadium. As well as Westwood, Dec Patton produced a masterful display to condemn the Dragons to a worrying defeat, with relegation becoming an ever more real result to a dire season.
The Wolves got off to the perfect start, with Stefan Ratchford breaking the deadlock after only 2 minutes. Kevin Brown did well in the build up, sending Peta Hiku through a gap in the Catalans defence, who found Ratchford on his inside to back up and score next to the posts.
This lead was doubled 7 minutes later following a sublime looping pass from prop Chris Hill. On the approach to the Catalans line, Warrington put the ball through the hands, with Daryl Clark finding Hill who superbly put Matty Russell over in the corner. A second Dec Patton conversion, this time from the touchline, extended the Wolves lead to 12-0.
Catalans struggled to deal with the pace and intensity on show from the Wolves, with their leaky defence haemorrhaging more points in the form of Dec Patton, who finished off a neat break from Tom Lineham. More good ball-work found Lineham with space ahead of him, down the touchline, with an inside ball again finding a way around the Dragons full back, allowing Warrington to notch up an 18-0 lead in only 15 first half minutes.
Despite this explosive start, Warrington did find themselves with problems, with the first coming through a Remi Casty try for the Dragons at the midway point in the half. Back to back penalties for the Frenchmen gave Catalans good field position in the Wolves half, allowing Casty to barge his way over from close range. The build up to the try also saw influential hooker Daryl Clark pick up a leg injury, forcing him from the field.
This did not deter the home side in their quest to preserve their Super League status, with Ryan Atkins restoring the Wolves 18 point lead in the 28th minute. An inch perfect kick towards the Dragons posts by the impressive Dec Patton was plucked out of the air by Ryan Atkins, with the centre having the easiest of jobs to touch down unopposed. Patton maintained his 100% record with the boot, as the score moved to 24-6 for the Wire.
Warrington appeared good value for their lead, which was extended further 5 minutes before the break, with Patton again influential in its creation. The young half produced an unusual but effective banana kick perfectly for Stefan Ratchford to collect and cross under the posts to all but put the game beyond the reach of the Dragons, who for the second week running looked nervous in their first qualifiers campaign. Patton’s 5th conversion meant that both sides returned to the dressing rooms with Warrington holding a commanding 30-6 advantage.
The break came at the perfect time for the Dragons after a lacklustre first half, however a try 5 minutes after the restart gave Catalans optimism. Poor defending outside from Warrington allowed Benjamin Garcia to break through, finding Krisnan Inu who was able to stride over in the corner. A Luke Walsh conversion from out wide reduced the deficit to 18, with the visitors still trailing 30-12.
This resurgence was diminished 5 minutes later, with the ever dangerous Ryan Atkins grabbing his second try of the afternoon. Everything Warrington did in attack was centred through Patton, who in a carbon copy of Atkins first half try, placed a precise cross field kick for the centre to leap like a salmon and touch down.
In a bizarre moment of the half, Catalans pulled another try back through Lewis Tierney. In back play, Kevin Brown took offence to the attention he received from Remi Casty, drawing in players from both sides. In the meantime, Tierney picked up the loose ball and raced away to score under the posts, with Robert Hicks giving the try, much to the discontent of the home crowd.
With the Dragons experiencing their best spell of the game, a stray Luke Walsh pass was read expertly by Tom Lineham and intercepted. The winger then ran 90 metres from his own try line to score a super opportunistic try and push Warrington over the 40 point mark. The Wolves led by 42-18 with less than 20 minutes remaining.
If the game was in any doubt, this was extinguished after Peta Hiku crossed for a back-to-back try for the Wolves. A Kevin Brown chip over the top was chased by Hiku, who was the first to collect and put the game to bed. 8 from 8 with the boot from Dec Patton pushed Warrington further in front with the scores at 48-18
With 10 minutes remaining, Catalans were able to grab a consolation try with Krisnan Inu claiming his second. The ball moved along the line smoothly, with the strength in numbers overpowering the Wolves defence for Inu to score.
In the closing stages, Tom Lineham was able to grab his second try of the game in the corner to seal the game for the Wolves. A good offload from Stefan Ratchford gave Lineham some room on the flank to dive over acrobatically and take Warrington’s tally past 50 points, and seal a well deserved 52-24 victory.