Warrington Wizards taught newcomers Bristol Sonics a harsh lesson with a powerful all round display.
Coming off an encouraging performance against Kippax Knights, home hopes were high that the Sonics could surprise a Wizards’ side playing for the first time this season.
Such optimism was tested from the start as a knock on from the kick-off put the Wizards on the attack with only a superb Harry Marson tackle keeping Warrington out.
It was not long until the Wizards made their superiority count when, on four minutes, a Paul Alcock break put lively hooker Hayden James in between the posts, Graham Healey adding the extras.
Five minutes later, the lead was extended when Alcock capitalised on dithering in the Sonics’ defence to ground an Alan Redecliff grubber, Healey again converting.
The Sonics’ woes were then compounded when an accidental clash of heads saw influential Marson leave the field.
On 14 minutes, the Wizards went further ahead when James scored his second, this time put in by the posts from a fine pass from scrum-half Healey who goaled.
If that looked ominous, on 23 minutes some tired defending saw Ryan Jones break clear out wide and cantered round to give Healey another easy shot at goal which maintained the point a minute barrage.
Having put together 25 minutes of near flawless of rugby, it was perhaps inevitable that Warrington would make mistakes and the Sonics finally began to get some field position.
On 27 minutes, some poor Warrington defending allowed loose forward Joe McKenna to burrow under from close range to open the Sonics account, Dom Swann converting.
Five minutes later, things got even better for the hosts as a clever ball from Swann was taken at pace by prop Sammi Charad, Swann again converting to reduce the deficit to 12 points.
Any hopes of a home comeback were quickly doused as on 36 minutes, another fine pass from Healey was taken by the excellent Wizards’ full-back Troy Brophy to burst through, leaving Healey the simplest of conversions.
With the Wizards threatening further scores, the half-time whistle came at the right time for the Sonics with the score 12-30.
The start of the second-half saw a more cagey opening with both sides making errors.
On 49 minutes Warrington effectively put the game beyond doubt when Mike Stout crossed having broken several weak tackles on the Sonics’ right side defence.
Healey converted and two minutes later, Paul Reynolds scored in similar circumstances, albeit further out wide.
The best try of the game came on 58 minutes as the excellent Brophy took a fantastic Healey pass at speed to majestically glide through the wilting Sonics’ defence.
If that score had a touch of class, the Wizards’ next try had a dash of comedy.
Big prop Dan Crampton managed to break tackles deep in his own half and sprinted three-quarters of the field just reaching the line before the despairing defenders could catch him.
While the try caused much amusement among Warrington fans in the grandstand, Crampton needed to be replaced after his exertions, Healey landing his eighth goal.
Despite replacements running low, Bristol defended their line with admirable grim determination.
The cold, windy conditions did not help attacking rugby and it was no surprise that a handling error produced Warrington’s final try in the 76th minute.
Trying to get out of their own 30 metre area, an ambitious Swann chip for the Sonics was fumbled by James Raymond and landed in the grateful arms of Christian Taylor to go over in the left-hand corner for the Wizards’ tenth try.
Sonics coach Karl Fearnley reflected ruefully on the loss.
‘We knew moving up a division we’d be playing much stronger sides and Warrington have taught us a lesson today.
‘I thought the lads showed a lot of guts and we’ll be stronger for this.
‘We’ve got a few players to come back and we can look forward to the rest of the season with confidence.’
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