After not kicking a ball in 2020 the Women’s Super League was back in 2021 with a twelve-team league consisting several new sides as the protagonists looked to emulate the Leeds Rhinos who beat Castleford Tigers in the 2019 Grand Final.
Two venues were in use for the opening four fixtures played on Sunday afternoon with the feature game being between the Wigan Warriors and new side for 2021, the Warrington Wolves at Victoria Park in Warrington, the first game of a double header which would later see Bradford Bulls take on St Helens.
Lee Westwood’s Warrington side had the best of the early pressure, but it was the Warriors who opened their account on eight minutes when Rachel Thompson took an inside pass from Alison Burrows who muscled over the line to stretch and score. The extras were added by Georgia Wilson for a 6-0 lead.
Wigan were in again on twelve when Wilson found space on the overlap to take a wide pass, which looked suspiciously forward, and ground by the corner flag. A difficult conversion was missed from the left touchline.
It was all too easy for Wigan with Wilson getting her second in two minutes, this time off an offload as the ball was given air to the left wing and she had a five-metre run into the corner. Wilson again missed the conversion.
Thwarting a Warrington attack, Wigan moved the ball down the other end of the field and Vanessa Temple went through a gap in the Wolves defensive line to run twenty and score under the shadow of the posts. Wilson added the conversion for 20-0 after twenty-four minutes.
There was finally some joy for the Wolves on the half hour when Georgia Sutherland took a looping ball and dipped her shoulder past the defender to go over from ten metres. Meg Jackson was unable to hit the target with the conversion attempt.
Wilson completed her hat-trick down a weak Wigan right as she took the ball on the touchline and stepped inside her marker to run the angle and score ten in from the touchline. She couldn’t add the extras, but the Warriors were 24-4 ahead with five remaining in the half.
With second left before the break Wilson got her fourth of the afternoon, and the sixth for Wigan, as she stepped inside again after receiving the ball in space and but she was again unable to add the extras, the Warriors going in 28-4 ahead at the interval.
Within seconds of the restart Victoria Molyneux went over under the sticks after dipping a shoulder and throwing a classic dummy. Wilson added the conversion for 34-4. Wigan were rampant, the Wolves receiving a Super League baptism of fire.
Wilson got her fifth of the afternoon on forty-five minutes taking a pass above her head five from the line and stepping inside her tackler to drop over the line. The conversion fell short of the posts as Wilson missed another.
Warrington made the most of back-to-back sets when Amy Daniels crashed over the top of her tackler and forced the ball to the ground, the referee pointing to the spot. Jackson was unable to convert from the touchline, the Wolves now thirty adrift.
After good Wolves pressure a mistake on their own twenty cost another try as Molyneux took a bullet pass and palmed off the full-back to score by the sticks. Wilson was accurate with the boot for 44-8 after fifty-nine minutes.
Excellent fast hands from the Warriors saw Temple complete her brace down the right wing, crashing through the last line of defence to score by the touchline. Wilson was short with the conversion attempt; Wigan just shy of the fifty.
Rebecca Greenfield scored the eleventh Wigan try to bring up the fifty after a mistimed offload gifted possession. She accelerated on the angle and went through to ground. Amy Wood took over the kicking but couldn’t add the extras as Wigan secured a 52-8 win.
It was an easy win for the 2018 Champions over a side which will take their time to find their feet in the topflight. Warrington showed some promise in attack but will be working on their defence before their next outing. The Warriors have set down a marker to the other WSL sides that they are in the running for success in 2021.
Warrington Wolves: Simpson, Johnstone, Cox, Daniels (T), Melvin, Jackson, Bound, Mullaney, Jelves, Davies, Coombs, Sutherland (T), Latchford. Subs: McCosh, Wilson, Sharrock, Tamou.
Wigan Warriors: Greenfield (T), Wilson (5T, 4G), Stirzaker, Baggaley G, Grace-Holding, Thompson (T), Burrows, Speakman, Marsh, Baggaley L, Temple (2T), Costello, Molyneux (2T). Subs: Wood, Davies, Gregory-Haselden, Boardman.
Referee: John McMullen.
Score Progression: 0-4, 0-6, 0-10, 0-14, 0-18, 0-20, 4-20, 4-24 4-28 : HT : 4-32, 4-34, 4-38, 8-38, 8-42, 8-44, 8-48, 8-52 : FT.
Viewing: Online viewing peaked at just over 20,000 spectators.