Rugby Like It’s 1999

Ah, that’s the Warrington we all know and love.

The period between the Challenge Cup final in 2009 and the Grand Final in 2013 were all well and good – scintillating rugby, cup finals, trophies, massive wins and a previously unthinkable record against Saints – but it wasn’t really Warrington, was it?

Last season was a bit more like it. Cup and play off semi final defeats, inconstant performances and a section of our support doing nothing but abuse our own players every week made a comeback, but this season we have added an element to our play that we haven’t seen for a good while.

Not only are we inconsistent from week to week, we now look like a totally different team in the same game. Warrington seem intent this season on reclaiming the ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ trophy last won by the Daryl Van de Velde teams of the late 90s and early 2000s.

Much like the Saints game at Magic Weekend, and most of the matches during the aforementioned period of early New Labour government, we threw away a half-time lead and were second best in the second half.

After Gaz O’Brien hoofed the kick off out on the full for the second week running, Wire managed to turn it round and good defence forced a Huddersfield mistake deep in their own territory, which Daryl Clark capitalised on when he charged over from dummy half to give us an early lead.

Huddersfield equalised through Jake Connor, who was the first to react when both Richie Myler and Stefan Ratchford failed to deal with a scrambled last tackle kick from Huddersfield, who had been forced to shift the ball wide due to our kick pressure. It was a poor kick, poked through in desperation, but a combination of a wet surface and sheer luck fell in the hosts’ favour.

Wire regained the lead through a lucky try of our own when Gaz O’Brien’s attempted grubber near the try line ricocheted off Danny Brough and fell kindly for the Wire stand off to stroll in under the sticks before further extending the lead with a drop goal just before half time.

It was a deserved lead in fairness. Although the first half had been very scrappy, Huddersfield’s only superiority being Danny Brough’s kicking game, but they failed to take advantage of that in the first 40 minutes.

That changed in the second half though, of course, and Huddersfield were straight back in the game after the break when Jodie Broughton collected Brough’s pinpoint grubber to touch down. Brough, never one to say no to a row, then lead the race to get involved in the ensuing brawl that was taking place while he was busy creating the try. Both him and Anthony England were sent to the Sin Bin for their parts in the first of three skirmishes.

Ben Harrison crossed for a scrappy score when he was the quickest to react to a Myler grubber near the line to take our lead to 19-12, but we’re not going to win the ‘game of two halves’ trophy at the end of the year by grinding out victories from this position.

Having seen Ben Currie leave the field injured early in the game, we then lost Gaz O’Brien to injury after he charged down Jamie Ellis’ kick and raced down field, only to be smashed in the corner as the try line beckoned. The ball came loose and Huddersfield played on, making good ground into our half from broken play until referee Bentham finally realised that a player was injured and stopped the game.

When play finally resumed, Huddersfield spread the ball wide and Jermaine McGilvary scored in the corner and Paul Anderson’s team of Gripper Stebson’s never looked back. 

When Brough returned to the field, he continued to kick us to death and be a constant thorn in our side with ball in hand. It’s depressing to see him control the game in such a manner. We had a player who was the master at that playing for us not so long ago and we simply have not replaced him yet. When Kurt Gidley makes his Warrington debut next season, it will not be a minute too soon and if he can have the influence that the likes of Campese and Walsh – who both haven’t had quite as stellar a career in the NRL as he has – have had at Hull KR and Saints respectively, we will be a lot closer to the team we were a couple of seasons ago.

The Scotland half back (it’s also depressing to call him that at a time when Sky pundits are bigging up Luke fucking Gale for an England call up) booted his second 40/20 of the game – while the only player to have kicked one for us all year was playing at Batley today – and from the resulting field position, Owen Craigie impersonator Jamie Ellis nudged over a drop goal.

To further take the piss, the chubby Chorley lad then knocked another one over minutes later from a tight angle out wide before McGilvary was gifted his second try of the game by some typical Warrington edge defence to really rub it in.

Although half the away end headed for the exits, there was just enough time for Daryl Clark and Jake Connor to be shown yellow cards for the final bit of biff of the day.

It’s worth noting that OB and Currie’s departure added to an injury list that saw us go into the game without nine regular first teamers (though admittedly, Westwood was out through suspension), which if we were a lesser team, would have seen us tweeting Huddersfield in the week begging for the game to be postponed. Instead, we get dickheads taking the piss on the internet about how we like to throw away half-time leads for old time’s sake.

Van De Velde’s Barmy Army.

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