What a night. What a fucking club.
Alright, alright, give us all the excuses you want: It’s a friendly, Brisbane’s season hasn’t started yet, blah blah blah.
NRL clubs have been coming over to this country at this time of the year for the world club challenge – or series, as it is now – for years. Sometimes they win, sometimes they don’t.
And Saturday night was one of the occasions they didn’t.
After a uninspiring pre-season and a thoroughly woeful opening game to the season, pretty much everybody had written us off going into the game. Even the most ardent Wire fans were just hoping for a good showing, not to embarrassed, keep the score line respectable, etc etc.
But, as we all know, the most Warrington thing ever is to come up with the most unexpected of performances.
Whether it’s beating Wigan on a Friday night after Sky had revoked their coverage of the game for fear of it being such a one-sided game, or going to a Championship club in the cup and losing, following Warrington is anything but predictable.
But that’s why we keep coming back. The promise that something special might just happen.
And absolutely no fucker would have predicted that we would blow the Brisbane Broncos away with a blistering opening 20 minutes
Kevin Brown, the much maligned, much debated off-season signing, was named man of the match by Sky and, in fairness, deservedly so. The former Widnes captain – on dayboo, as the Aussies would say – stamped his authority on the game right from the start.
After a brilliant charge down and recover from Joe Westerman, the strapping loose forward was finally hauled down five metres from the try line. Brown jumped in to dummy half and sold a dummy to the scrambling Brisbane defence to stroll in and open the scoring.
The blue torch paper was lit.
We said a few years ago after the St George Illawarra game that the club moved to the HJ for occasions like this and we stand by that.
Not a full house, but a 12,000 crowd, under the lights, against one of the biggest rugby league names in the world. The eyes of the entire sport descended upon our little part of WA2 and we smashed it.
Without two of our most potent strike threats – Currie and Ratchford – and without our inspirational captain, our pack stepped up and beat Brisbane’s beasts man-for-man.
Behind that platform, the Patton-Brown-Gidley combination in the pivots was as fluid and structured as we’ve seen for some time.
Having that third ball handler in the attacking line really made a world of difference and never was it more evident than for Russell’s try when he received the ball behind a lead runner and, despite oncoming pressure from the Broncos defence, released a pinpoint ball to find the Scottish international winger to score in the corner.
That try and Brown’s opener sandwiched a score from Atkins, who burst onto a flat Kev Brown pass to charge over just moments after the stand-off had opened the scoring.
A penalty goal from Our Dec gave us a 20 point lead on the 20 minute mark. A point per minute, on average, against the fucking Brisbane Broncos.
We couldn’t speyk.
As expected, Brisbane rallied and threatened a comeback with a magnificent break away try but a Tom Lineham score beofre the break extended Wire’s lead.
The second half got tasty in parts and didn’t it half add to the drama and atmosphere?
The south stand can be like a morgue at times, but those occasions when we’re all riled up and there’s some nark in the game, the familiar, guttural war cries don’t half send shivers down the spine, do they?
It’s not that it was NRL vs Super League, or Australia vs England, it’s that it was Brisbane vs Warrington. Arguably the biggest name in the sport had flown half way across the world to take the piss in our back yard.
We had the lead on the score board and the players were not about to let themselves be beaten physically, either, when tempers flared at various points. And those paying punters that turned up were fully appreciative of their efforts.
Brisbane scored twice more in the second half but a Patton drop goal before their final try ensured a two score cushion and our at-times heroic defence held firm in the final stages as the pressure came thick and fast.
As we write this, we’re watching the Wigan-Cronulla game in the background and the crust munchers are beating the Sharks.
We love this concept of a world club series and a lot of acquaintances that have no affiliation to the sport took an interest in the game.
International competition is always the pinnacle and most attention-grabbing aspect of any sport and we believe the WCS should be a permanent feature of the fixture list and, if anything, extended.
Obviously there will be doubters and there’s a list of reasons why it could be logistically problematic.
But there are ways around that, and the top 4 from both competitions could take part in a round-robin tournament, with the NRL sides coming to Europe to play their Super League counterparts two weeks running, while the return fixtures could be played later in the season.
Obviously if there were two groups of four, there would also be all-Super League and all-NRL clashes, but that’s just how it works out. Sometimes English clubs draw each other in the champions’ league. The top two from each group would then enter a straight semi-final knock out.
Just a thought. For the future. For now, we’re just fucking buzzing that our little club has proven itself to be firmly amongst the elite in the world. That’ll do for us.
Now the Wire.