Warrington 22-8 Halifax: Wolves' blushes spared by late Matty Russell and Andre Savelio tries
Last Updated: 19/08/17 6:34pm
Warrington maintained their unbeaten start to the Super 8s Qualifiers but were given an almighty scare by Kingstone Press Championship side Halifax at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.
After successive wins over Betfred Super League opposition in Widnes and Catalans, many expected this to be a simple afternoon's work for the Wolves - it was anything but.
In a match that would end as a 22-8 win for Warrington, the sides were locked at just 4-4 at half-time with Peta Hiku crossing for the Wolves and Chester Butler replying for Halifax.
There was still little to choose between the two sides in the second half as Chris Hill edged Warrington in front before Butler replied with his second of the game to leave the Super League side clinging to a 10-8 lead with 15 minutes remaining.
But two tries late in the game from Matty Russell and Andre Savelio and three goals from Declan Patton spared the Wolves' blushes as they protected their 100 per cent record.
The Wolves made just one change from the side that defeated Catalans the previous week, with 19-year-old Morgan Smith making his first start for the club at hooker in place of the injured Daryl Clark while Brad Dwyer came into the squad on the bench.
Halifax were without Will Sharp, who picked up a one-match suspension for tripping in the defeat by Widnes, and they also made a number of changes with Butler, James Woodburn-Hall and Ed Barber all coming into the starting line-up.
Halifax certainly were not in awe of their opponents in the opening exchanges and came up with some tremendous defensive efforts to deny Russell and Stefan Ratchford to keep their line intact and with some better handling could have surprised their hosts.
It took a lethargic Wolves 20 minutes to open their account when, after some sustained pressure, centre Hiku finally found a way through the stubborn Halifax defence to score the opening try.
If the Wolves thought that was the score that would see them take control of the game they were mistaken as the Championship side continued to match it with their hosts and the video referee was called on to adjudge that Steve Tyrer had failed to touch down Scott Murrell's cross-field kick.
More defensive heroics on their own line denied Ratchford and Smith as the Wolves struggled to find any fluency in their play.
And the visitors finally got the rewards their play deserved in the first half when, two minutes before half-time, former Wolves man Simon Grix put in an inch-perfect kick and winger Butler touched down to level the scores at 4-4 at half-time.
Three early penalties against Halifax at the start of the second half saw them put on a team warning by referee Robert Hicks and the Wolves took full advantage as captain Hill crashed over from close range and Patton converted to make it 10-4.
But once again Halifax would not lie down and they responded again when Butler collected Murrell's long pass and shrugged off Lineham to cross for his second try of the game, cutting Warrington's lead to two points as Tyrer was wide with the touchline conversion attempt.
Warrington eased their nerves and the tension that was building around the stadium when, with 15 minutes remaining, Kevin Brown's cross-field kick was taken by Russell, who managed to squeeze over in the corner.
Patton added the conversion and then put two scores between the teams with a penalty soon after to make it 16-8.
And two minutes from time Savelio ploughed through some tired defence to score the final try which gave the scoreline a somewhat flattering look.