Wolves extinguish Dragons' fire

PA Sport
Ben Westwood returned to scoring ways following his recovery from a hernia operation
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Ben Westwood returned to scoring ways following his recovery from a hernia operation

Warrington held onto second spot in Stobart Super League after producing a tough-tackling 15-6 victory to nullify the Catalans' flair.

The Dragons had their sights on grabbing second place as they sought to repeat last year's win at the Halliwell Jones Stadium but the Wolves demonstrated their defensive mettle to ensure they go into Sunday's Challenge Cup semi-final against Huddersfield in winning form.

Warrington were forced into a late change when stand-off Lee Briers pulled out with an Achilles injury but the versatile Stefan Ratchford stepped into the breach and they had six regulars back after missing the shock defeat at Salford.

The home side took advantage of the Dragons' indiscipline to apply all the early pressure. Loose forward Ben Harrison made a lunge for the line before squeezing out a pass to give England second-rower Ben Westwood the easiest of scores on 13 minutes, with Brett Hodgson adding the conversion.

The Catalans, who received their first penalty five minutes before half-time, threatened fleetingly, largely through the prompting of stand-off Leon Pryce, but never seriously threatened the Warrington line.

However, they made the livelier start to the second half. Right winger Damien Blanch got over from dummy half only to be held up on his back while full-back Clint Greenshields broke clear down the middle to set up the position for Daryl Millard to get teenage left winger Damien Cardace crossing at the other corner.

However, slow-motion replays indicated Cardace had put a foot on the touchline and the Wolves immediately made the most of the let-off by scoring from their first attack of the second half. Westwood and Harrison kept the ball alive on the last tackle and left centre Ryan Atkins kicked ahead and beat Greenshields to get the touchdown.

Undeterred, the Catalans struck back on 58 minutes when a charging run from skipper Remi Casty created the position for veteran second rower Steve Menzies to put loose forward Jason Baitieri through a hole in the Warrington defence for a try.

Durea's goal cut the gap to four points but Gareth O'Brien put more distance between the teams with a 64th-minute penalty awarded for a high tackle on Michael Monaghan that led to prop David Ferriol being put on report.

Michael Monaghan's drop goal four minutes later put two scores between the teams and, after both sides had spurned tryscoring chances, Hodgson completed the scoring with a penalty two minutes from the end.

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