Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad

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We keep toying with the idea of updating this thing every day, come what may. Just filling it with any old content/clickbait.

Then we realise that we can’t even guarantee to update it every month, so that goes out the window.

Congratulations, by the way, to those of you eagle-eyed enough to spot that the writing on the record cover is Spanish, not French, but before you mock our lack of language skills and say ‘we played a French team’,  bear in mind that the region of Catalonia covers as much an area of Spain as it does France. So the picture is relevant to the text. Somewhat.

The biggest problem with our tardiness is that we now have to talk about three matches that encompass contrasting moods and results, which dictate the tone of these updates, so strap yourself in for a bit of a rollercoaster ride.

Not really, we’re just gonna tell you stuff you already knew because you were at the games and have functioning eyes. But anyway. Here goes.

Firstly, St Helens.

It never gets old beating them fuckers, does it?

Judging from the relative sparsity of the away end, you could argue that the fixture has lost some of its lure in recent years, but for those of us who spent the best part of two decades turning up to Knowsley Road in hope and blind faith rather than in optimism, only to see our beloved Wire turned over time and again, the novelty of winning at Saints will never wear off.

Everyone talks of the infamous 80-0 loss in the Regal Trophy 20 years ago, but Saints’ hoodoo over us included a thumping victory later that year to claim the first Super League Trophy and a soul-crushing 72-2 loss in 2002, not to mention 2006 when a last-gasp Sean Long drop goal (away) and a Kieron Cunningham try on the hooter (at home) cruelly denied Paul Cullen’s men victory twice in the same season.

Stuff like that leaves a burning imprint on the brains of regular match goers and those that made the trip through Sankey loved every minute off it.

Especially pleasing were the moments the assembled ranks of Wire supporters taunted Cunningham – one of our chief tormentors for so many years – about his statue suffering the same fate as Saddam Hussein’s after his capture and politely informed the Saints’ players how they rated them as they gathered behind the sticks after another Warrington try.

Tony Smith hailed the performance ‘one of the gutsiest’ of the season in the press, praising the team’s character for withstanding a heavy onslaught of Saints pressure on our line, but you can’t honestly say that the artists-formerly-known-as-the-entertainers offered much in attack. When your last tackle option is to give it to Jon Wilkin and hope for the best, you might as well give it up.

Odd really, considering Fages and Walsh lined up together in the halves.

Hearing Cunningham’s increasingly deluded post-match interviews after defeats like this, and seeing them send half backs Travis Burns and Dougie Charnock out on loan while the team is crying out for a creative spark, you do have to genuinely wonder if he’s just having a ‘bit of banter’ with the job of head coach of one of the most successful clubs in the modern era.

He cops a lot of criticism from the supporters that worshipped him as a player and as pleasant as it is for us to take part in this kind of morbid voyeurism, there is a lesson to be learnt here for those desperately wanting to fast track Lee Briers into the head coaches’ role at the HJ.

We’d all love nothing more than to see Briers lead out the team at Old Trafford or Wembley as a coach as he did as a player, but he really does need to be given time to go away and learn his craft away from the club and his former team mates.

Cunningham’s plight – and Cullen’s exit from our club – serve as a reminder that sentiment has no place in sport and an acrimonious exit can totally soil a person’s legacy at a club and for someone who has given as much as Briers has to Warrington, there should be no rush to thrust that kind of pressure on a man who has barely two years of Academy coaching under his belt.

On the pitch, we looked good against Saints without really getting out of second gear, and if you’re looking to be hyper-critical, you could argue we should took them to the cleaners in the second half, but it was a different story a week later against Hull in a game that was, as they say, ‘marred’ by grainy iPhone footage of some badly thrown punches outside the away end.

It was hardly the battle of Cable Street, but the scramble for the moral high ground over the weekend was laughable. Grown men from Hull were telling anybody on the internet willing to listen (read?) that Wilderspool was the only ground their parents wouldn’t let them wear team colours and people were rushing to tell of all the trouble they’d seen on Fletcher Street over the years.

They all looked a bit silly to begin with – especially considering their own club’s record over the years – and then even sillier when news came that the trouble seemed to start when Hull fans attacked a young Wire fan who was rumoured to have ended up in hospital as a result.

We should probably condemn such scenes of, erm, shocking violence but to be honest, we’re just glad someone got some excitement at the game, because for the majority of us, it was 80 minutes of our lives we won’t get back.

Hull do well to sit at the top of the league; they play to their strengths – literally – and grind out victories through brute force.

Lee Radford, who himself copped a lot of sick from his own fans at the start of the year, has clearly modelled his team on the successful Bradford side he was a part of during his playing career.

They have a massive pack and play almost exclusively up the middle, squeezing the life of out teams – and the fun out of games – with a solid half back playing behind them kicking teams to death. For Joe Vagana and Stuart Fielden, read Frank Pritchard and Scott Taylor. For Paul Deacon, see Marc Sneyd.

It’s quite funny hearing them – off all supporters – singing “it’s always your year” to us considering their the club more than any other that make big noises every single season about ‘breaking into the top four’ and such other clichéd bollocks spouted to flog season tickets.

Their 25,000 strong travelling army obviously feel this *is* their year, and they have beaten us home and away now, but we know more than any other club that when we meet in the playoffs is when it counts.

We put an aggregate of 90 points past Leeds in the regular season in 2011; they beat us by two points in September and went on to be victorious at Old Trafford.

That said, the fact that our tries only came from their errors shows how much we allowed them to bully us up the middle and restrict our territory and creativity.

No passage of time has ever summed up being a Warrington fan like the five minutes or so the south stand spent building up an impressive and expectant atmosphere, ramped up to 11 when we forced a turnover from Hull, only for Gene Ormsby to take the first drive in from the scrum and lose the ball on the first tackle, killing the atmosphere – and momentum the team had built up – stone dead.

It was a similar story against Catalans the following week, their big pack slowed our ruck speed down and just didn’t let our attacking pivots click into gear as we know they can, but we managed to grind out a victory while playing ugly, mainly thanks to the stupidity of Eloi Pellisier.

The little hooker – who was actually really lovely when we all had a drink in his dad’s bar the other year – is the archetypal French rugby league player. He has skill, speed, flair but he is as thick as pig shit.

He’s an aggressive little player and that is what makes him the player he is, but his high, late tackle on Gidley as he put a kick in late in the game cost his team the two points. A bit of good kick pressure is all that was required, but a swinging arm, with both feet off the floor was always going to attract the referee’s attention.

That said, you have to question why the referee allowed Catalans to run 100 metres and score before bothering to go to the screen to see if it was a penalty. Had a tackle been made during the phase of play and Catalans scored from the play the ball, the incident would have gone unpunished and Catalans would have won the game.

It shows the utter reliance that referees seem to have on the assistance of the video ref – surely he should’ve just blown up for a penalty when he saw the infringement.

Either way, Gidley kicked the penalty and we won a game that we didn’t deserve to so we stay within touching distance of the top of the league with just three games left before the Super Eights begin.

The reigning champions would give an arm and a leg to be in our position. Can’t be bad.

Hasta La Vista, bitches.

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