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Pressure mounts on Warrington Wolves

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PICTURES EDDIE WHITHAM

PRESSURE is mounting on coach Tony Smith after Warrington Wolves crashed to a sixth successive Super League loss.

Even the return of Stefan Ratchford failed to inspire them, as they were comfortably beaten 31-6 at St Helens, for whom Matty Smith played a pivotal role.

Smith, Tony that is, has remained calm so far despite a dismal start, though with only 17 games left of the first phase of the season, the Wolves are going to have to start to win and fast, considering at least 10 are expected to be needed to just reach the top eight.

Warrington showed some signs of life in the opening 20 minutes, in defence at least, keeping their opponents scoreless for half an hour.

But again they were toothless in attack, and eventually that was going to catch up on them.

James Roby’s grubber kick in goal was made a meal of by Matty Russell, enabling Zeb Taia to dive on the loose ball for his first Saints try.

That triggered an alarming collapse which ultimately had the game out of reach by half time.

Smith’s kick caught the Wolves defence unaware and Jack Owens raced in for a try that was converted by Mark Percival for 12-0.

And Saints were to make it 18 points in nine minutes before the break, as they broke down the left through Percival with Adam Swift finishing it off.

Within three minutes of the restart, Warrington gave the travelling faithful some hope as Kurt Gidley took on Kevin Brown’s scoot and pass to get them on the board at 18-6, and when Saints kicked the restart out on the full, the Wolves finally had some momentum.

That was until 54 minutes, when two consecutive penalties enabled Saints to build field position and settle things down with a kick at goal, which Percival duly succeeded with for 20-6.

Warrington never looked capable of scoring three more times and Saints added their fourth try through Swift shortly after the hour mark.

Smith capped off his return to action with a drop goal seven minutes from time, and big prop Alex Walmsley rubbed salt in the wounds with a late try.

After the match Wolves boss Smith said the current run of form was “hurting,” although he didn’t think there was much to choose between the two teams in the first half which remain scoreless for the first 30 minutes.

“They scored two well constructed tires with kicks into the corner and Matty Russell made a bit of a hash of it with one when allhe had to do was put his hand on the ball. But they were playing at the right end of the field for those errors to happen and we didn’t put enough pressure on them.

“There kicking game was much better than ours although I was generally pleased with our defence in the first half but where we finished or sets, penalties and handing the ball over hurt us too much.

“It’s tough and no-one wants to be in this position.We’ve got to handle this patch with dignity. I’m going to continue to work hard, be respectful about players and performances and we need to stay united,” he added.

St Helens: Makinson; Owens, Morgan, Percival, Swift; Fages, Smith; Walmsley, Lee, Douglas, Taia, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Wilkin. Replacements: Roby, Amor, Walker, Peyroux

Warrington: Ratchford; Russell, Evans, King, Johnson; Brown, Gidley; Hill, Clark, Cooper, Westwood, Hughes, Westerman. Replacements: Sims, Dwyer, Crosby, Livett

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Journalist and sport content specialist, who is also editor of Love Rugby League. Formerly ran the official website of the Carling Cup, as well as operating a digital services business in Warrington.

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