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Warrington Wolves: On their way back to the top?

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Warrington Wolves have never claimed the Super League title but they came mighty close last year.

Having secured the League Leaders Shield they reached their third Grand Final but, as in the first two, came up short as Wigan pulled off a 12-6 victory at Old Trafford.

Despite failing to land the sport’s biggest prize, 2016 will still be considered as an excellent year for Tony Smith’s side, with 16 wins, six losses and a draw from their 23 regular season games.

However, despite beating Brisbane Broncos in the World Club Series, The Wire have struggled in the early part of this season and currently find themselves down in ninth place in the table.

But Sunday’s 22-20 victory over Wakefield Trinity was their fourth consecutive Super League success and the signs are good that the sleeping giants have finally woken up.

Losing their first six games of the campaign was not in Smith’s script and the 22-22 draw with Hull FC on April 1 finally brought some relief and was the catalyst for an upturn in form.

It is true that there is still a long way to go and The Wolves are still outside the top eight, but wins over Leeds, Widnes and Huddersfield before the Trinity triumph suggest that there are better times ahead.

While topping the table after 23 games may be out of the question, there is every reason to think that there will be play-off rugby at Halliwell Jones Stadium later in the year and they cannot be ruled out as Grand Final material.

One of the main reasons why Warrington will surely be there or there abouts at the end of the season is a collective belief among the players.

Even during the dark times of the first six games, players were giving optimistic interviews after every defeat and confident of turning things around.

It may have taken longer than expected but momentum in any sport is key and the 2012 Challenge Cup winners now have it in spades following four straight wins.

One reason proffered for the club’s early season malaise was the squad struggling to cope with the weight of expectation following last season’s success.

Pressure can do funny things even to the most talented of athletes and it may well have been that Warrington’s stars were too uptight and desperate to repeat their table-topping form this time around.

Dual-code legend Jason Robinson was vocal in his praise of the club despite a loss to newly-promoted Leigh on March 16 – their fifth consecutive reverse – and was adamant that the structure at Warrington and talent in the ranks would eventually start to shine through.

And, like a Premier League footballer finally ending a long goal drought with a hat-trick, the floodgates have seemingly opened for the North West side.

They will next take on Hull FC to try and further climb the Super League table, but according to the match predictions from bethut.co.uk, the odds don’t look in their favour.

Nevertheless, the league is a marathon and not a sprint and there will be many upsets from the underdogs. Indeed, It may be a slow process but Warrington are on the way back as, to quote a well-worn cliché, form is temporary but class is permanent.

 

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