After the Lord Mayor’s Show…

 

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For this week’s edition, we thought we’d play a little game of count the clichés.

Have fun. Let us know how you get on.

If you weren’t expecting that result on Friday, after the previous weeks’ stunning victory, you haven’t really been following Warrington long, have you?

An impressive victory followed a pile of shite is just the Warrington Way (we’re gonna get that trademarked, by the way, hence the capitals).

The only way it could have been any more ‘Typical Wire’ (also awaiting trademark) is if it had been against a side struggling at the bottom.

Cas look good this year, having improved an already pretty decent squad with some shrewd off-season signings, but it would still be considered a winnable game on paper.

That said, it always seems to be the way in this fixture that the away side give the home side a good thumping – how many times have we gone to Wheldon Road and turned Cas over? While the HJ has been a kind hunting ground for them in recent years, not least in front of the Sky cameras.

For our part, we went into the game missing our most influential pivot Kurt Gidley; and it told big time against Powell’s men.

There is no doubting that we are at our best when we have three pivots on the field and without Gidley, youngster Jack Johnson returned to first team action and the team just didn’t have that fluency or sharpness in attack it displayed last week.

That backline spread that sees the ball go through the hands of 6,7 and 1, leaving the full back with a three-on-two out wide, works so well when the full back is a genuine ball handler but with Gidley missing and Ratchford still out, it just wasn’t executed throughout the game and the team lacked a sense of direction or organisation.

On the flip side, while Cas were missing the effervescent Paul McShane through suspension, their spine was still strong and with Gale at 7 pulling the strings, they were always at an advantage.

The former Leeds and Bradford half back has really found himself at Castleford and is playing the best rugby of his career. Cas have built a team around Gale and he is shining after the disappointments of being released by Leeds and relegated with the Bulls.

He doesn’t do anything overly flash; but what he does, he does well. He takes the line on, with options either side of him and he invariably picks the right one. And when he ships the ball on, he has two mercurial players outside him in Chase and Hardaker – both former Man of Steel winners, of course – and anything can happen when they have the ball in their hands.

Throw in Adam Milner at hooker to that equation and you have a strong spine: all fine individual players in their own right, but equally, their combination is worth more than just the sum of its parts, especially when their big pack is on a roll.

Not to labour the point, but it was this gulf in class in the pivots that was the difference between the sides.

After a bright start which saw Andre Savellio open the scoring, Wire were always behind the eight ball after Cas ran in three tries in the space of about ten minutes before conceding what was either an eye-catching length of the field team effort or a fucking soft piece of defending, depending on your viewpoint.

Having conceded three quick fire tries, the main priority, you would imagine, would be to get a deep kick off and keep them in their own, try to force your way back in the ‘arm wrestle’ and all that.

Cas had other ideas and shifted the ball wide on receiving the kick off and Hardaker broke down their left – our right, where the Alex Nyarko of rugby league was defending – and released a ball back inside for the aforementioned Gale to touch down.

A Lineham try before the break narrowed their lead to 22-10 at the break and the half-time team talk was anything on the lines of ‘win the second half, at least’, then we can all take a great deal of positives from the second 40 minutes because that’s exactly what happened as we edged Cas 12-8 in another vintage Warrington characteristic – only playing for one half of the game.

Not that we were any better in the second half.

As is the usual case when we are behind on the scoreboard, we looked panicked, forced the ball too much, throwing it around as if there were four minutes on the clock, not 40.

We will stop short of saying we are fast track bullies – there have been enough performances in recent years, not least last season’s victories at Salford and Hull – to suggest that we actually can dig in and win the tight games without playing very well. We just don’t do it consistently enough to fill anyone with confidence once we go a few scores behind – or even if we are not out sight by half-time.

It’s that lack of a killer instinct that worries us with regards to winning a major trophy this year, but it’s still only very early and we do have some of the best players in the squad – indeed, the league – to come back into the side yet.

If you’re looking for a positive spin, you could just put in down to a tough day at the office. The beauty of sport is that there’s a chance to dust yourself down and go again a week later.

And that takes us to 10 clichés.

11 if you include the headline.

Well done if you were playing along.

 

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