When I was booking my 6 Nations adventures I had a look at where I could go to for my live sport on the 2 break weekends. Imagine my delight when I realised that the World Club Challenge games were due to take place during the February break.
I am giving away my next event – but to my delight Saracens were also in the North West at the same time playing Sale in the Premiership. The trip North was clearly meant to be!
I managed to arrange 2 interviews while I was in the area – the 1st took place at Central Park and involved the Wigan Warriors Community Team.and talking about their wonderful work The 2nd with Tony Fretwell of the RFL to talk about Embedding The Pathway. in common with the Joey Grima interview they’ll follow on In The Loose.
Wigan is a long way from Chelmsford and yet a fairly painless drive in spite of taking in excess of 4 hours. I set off at 9:45 is having lingered at home for a bit longer than intended and arrived at Central Park at 14:15 after making a brief stop.
I thought my plans were going to be derailed when I got back in my car at the services – I literally couldn’t get my steering lock off! Having messed about for a little while I put my hopeless woman look on and asked for help. I didn’t feel too incredibly useless when the man I asked sat in my seat and sorted the problem immediately!
The journey involves the M11, A14, M6 – my only moan about this journey is the number of slow lorries overtaking a slightly slower lorry when there are only 2 lanes! I don’t know what other choice they have but wow it’s annoying!
I confess I sang at the top of my voice for most of the 4.5 hours – might be a factor in the sore throat I had when I arrived.
2 very interesting interviews later I made my way to the Halliwell Jones Stadium, Tony had recommended a place to park that was in safe walking distance and a mere four pounds. I know Warrington quite well so it proved easy to find.
A short stroll to the stadium and arrived in plenty of time to find that my seat was virtually on the halfway line! A wonderful view! With over 13K people in the place what chance of 2 London Broncos fans sitting 2 rows in front of me!
Directly in front were 3 Sydney Rabbitoh fans who’d come over for the series – we of course had a chat about the disaster that is England Cricket and the World Cup! I can see that writing about my summer days to come may be hard!
The teams arrived to much fanfare – I’d heard that Warrington coach Tony Smith had set up a bit of pre-match controversy suggesting there may be some ‘atmosphere’ between the 2 teams. And so at times during the game it proved to be the case!
St George Illawarra Dragons – that’s not an easy team for a young child to support – something of a mouthful! Have a team sheet with some very well known names – most notable for me – Benji Marshall and Gareth Widdop, both made their mark on the game
Another notable point about the Dragons is that they must have the tallest player in rugby league and also the fattest in the top flight! Having discussed the build of top class players in the afternoon I was amazed to see a man who’d clearly eaten the whole team’s allocation of pies!
For some very strange reason the game of rugby league really brings out the fish wife in me – it’s a rare match that doesn’t have me shouting at the top of my voice! And this was to prove no exception. More of a match report than usual for these games.
The visitors scored early through Tyson Frizzle, Gareth Widdop added the extras with a great kick, it’s good to see an England player with such a good eye for the posts!
Next up for the try line was Gareth O’Brien with a superb solo effort – he backed himself and flew through the St George defenders to score – he duly added the conversion to his and his teams’ tally.
In a trading of scores it was Joel Thompson who scored for St George next – he seemed to get to the ball at the same time as the Warrington defender who looked to push the ball out rather than touch it down. Quicker thinking by the visitor saw a further 6 points added.
I didn’t note too much down while the game was going on, but one of the moments of controversy that ensured a very fiery game, came next when the St George winger Eto Nabuli very nearly took Kevin Penny’s head off!
That was the moment my not very lady like yelling ensued! It looked like a straight red in the ground, but I’m told by a friend who was watching on the TV that it started on the shoulder – for me it was a dangerous tackle that was never going to be successful. All Ben Thaler decided to do was award a penalty!
My words at the time – ‘Should have been a red card and all the ref did was have a chat??? Kevin Penny nearly had his head taken off!!
Warrington were awarded with a try once the penalty had been taken when Ryan Atkins ran in to score. The conversion was missed.
The scores were evened up with an O’Brien penalty 20 minutes of the 2nd half remaining when Benji Marshall virtually matched Nabuli on the high tackle count, this time O’Brien was the target. I’d judge that this wasn’t as bad as the 1st ‘tackle’ but again feel that a yellow card should have been brandished.
It was to be St George Illawarra who triumphed however as the same Benji Marshall put in a kick for Josh Duggan to run on to – Warrington hearts were broken as he touched down. The try was again converted taking the score to its final point – Warrington Wolves 12 St George Illawarra Dragons 18.
It was a hugely enjoyable game – some great skill with an added edge that so often happens in a rugby league match.
Getting back to my car was safe and easy, the traffic queues not bad at all and I found myself staying at a hotel I’m very familiar with. The Holiday Inn Warrington – gave me a good nights sleep in a comfortable room.
A few facts from the game/day
- Cost of Ticket £45.00
- Pint of Carlsberg £ 4.00
- Can of Somersby(?) £ 4.00
- Pint of Tetleys £ 4.00
- WKD £ 3.90
- Wine £ 4.10
- Hot/Soft/Water £ 2.30
- Chicken Balti Pie £ 4.10
- Meat & Potato Pie £ 2.90
- Jumbo Sausage Roll £ 2.70
- Crisps £ 1.00
I have no idea what Somersby is but worth a mention – a few more of my standard points
- Ladies Toilets – Plenty of them – toilet paper, soap and hand dryers
- Safety – There was a very nasty exchange of words between 2 men behind me but they were reminded it was ‘rugby not football’ so that abated. I felt safe throughout, the car park was dark but there were plenty of people around.
- Best moment of the Day – chatting to the Sydney Rabbitoh fans sat in front of me, great to chat cricket as well as rugby league.
- Best moment of the game – without doubt the Gareth O’Brien try – it was shout out loud exciting!
A wonderful evening all round – in fact a wonderful day – reminded me just how much I love the game of rugby league! My excitement obviously gave me shaky hands – not so many decent photos – must try harder!