Super League leaders Warrington head to Magic Weekend after ‘reality check’

James Gordon

(Photo by Craig Thomas/News Images

Super League leaders Warrington take on Hull FC at St James’ Park on Sunday looking for a fourth successive Magic Weekend win.

The Wolves could be displaced at the top of the table by the time they face the Airlie Birds, with closest challengers Wigan and Catalans meeting on Saturday.

A win by more than eight by Wigan, or by more than 14 by the Dragons, would see them leapfrog Warrington on points difference – for 24 hours at least.

Warrington have won 10 of their 13 games to date, but suffered a humbling defeat at Leigh Leopards last weekend that Wolves skipper Stefan Ratchford admits had been coming.

He told BBC Radio Merseyside: “It wasn’t a great performance from ourselves and being honest, that performance has been coming for a few weeks. We’ve been a bit scratchy for a few weeks. We weren’t great in first half of the Hull KR game, and we weren’t particularly great in the wakefield game.

“That result has been coming for a while. It’s a bit of a reality check for us. It’s put us in our place almost. We’re definitely looking to get things back to where we were a few weeks ago and do all the little things right.”

Like a cup final

Daryl Powell’s side won their first eight games of the season before suffering successive defeats to Wigan and St Helens.

They bounced back with wins over Hull KR and basement boys Wakefield, but as Ratchford says, they were unconvincing in both.

Defeat at Leigh would perhaps have been unexpected in any other season, but such has been the quality of the Leopards so far this season, it was another momentous night for them.

Leigh led 20-12 at half time, with former Warrington players Gareth O’Brien (2) and Josh Charnley crossing for tries.

Despite enjoying some pressure at the start of the second half, Warrington couldn’t find a break through and head to Magic Weekend on the back of a scoreless half at Leigh Sports Village.

They can take solace though from their record on the big stage, having won eight of their previous games at Super League’s big weekend.

Ratchford added: “It almost has a cup final feel about it. It’s always interesting to see which other supporters pick to shout for in a particular game. It’s a weekend and a concept I’ve always enjoyed.

“Every team that plays you when you’re top of the league tend to come up with their best performance of the year so far. If you speak to lads at other clubs like Wigan and St Helens, they say that.

“We’ve put ourselves in a good position, and we’re happy to be sat at the top of the tree at the half way mark, but that puts a bit of a target on our backs.

“Teams are certainly coming for us week after week, and we’ve got to find a different level and a different gear and get back to what we were doing well at the beginning of the year.”

Warrington’s lack of creativity against Leigh could partly be attributed to the absence of scrum-half Josh Drinkwater, who was serving a one-match ban.