There was plenty to play for as Warrington wolves took on Toulouse Olympique XIII in a relegation dogfight at the Halliwell-Jones Stadium with the French side still looking for their first non-Magic away win of the season but knowing that Warrington were in freefall and ripe for the taking.
A win for Toulouse would likely lift them back off the floor of the table and over Wakefield Trinity, but a win for the Wolves would edge them a step closer to safety as they would then open a six-point lead over the bottom side.
Toulouse were taking a drink in the last chance saloon.
Warrington got their reward for early good pressure when Oliver Holmes stepped out of one attempted tackle, stumbled, and scrambled over the line for the opening try. Stefan Ratchford added the conversion, and the home crowd were happy, a rare occurrence in 2022.
On thirteen Connor Wrench took a floated Matt Dufty pass to dive over in the right corner. Ratchford threaded his kick between the uprights from the touchline for 12-0, Warrington finding their groove early.
Warrington spurned an easy penalty after a high tackle from Tony Gigot on Dufty.
As the half wore on Toulouse edged their way into the game and with thirty-one minutes on the clock Corey Norman took the ball at first received from the back of the scrum and rant the angle to step out of a tackle and go in. Chris Hankinson added the extras to half Warrington´s lead. In the blink of an eye the visitors were right back in the game.
Within three minutes Toulouse were back on level terms after the ball was stripped from Lambert Belmas by Peter Mata´utiua on the Warrington line and Eloi Pelissier was first to react and ground the ball. Hankinson added the conversion and the mood in the stands changed in an instant as the booing rang around the ground.
On thirty-seven Pelissier was wrestled over the line by Thomas Mikaele and managed to force the ball onto the ground for his second try in four minutes and Toulouse´s third in seven minutes. Hankinson added the conversion and Toulouse took an 18-12 lead as the Wolves supporters disgust was loudly voiced.
A block by Harrison Hansen on the Toulouse twenty gifted Ratchford a penalty goal to cut the half time arrears to four points as the Wire went into the interval trailing by 14-18.
Less than four minutes after the restart it looked like Ratchford had gone in for a try under the sticks, but the video referee ruled that he´d dropped the ball over the line. Bretherton was determined to have held Ratchford back and was sent to the sinbin.
On fifty-four Connor Wrench took a short pass and hurled himself to the line to score one-handed as the Toulouse defence tried to bundle him into touch. Ratchford pulled his conversion across the face of the posts, the sides all square with twenty-five minutes remaining.
Ratchford slotted over a penalty on the hour mark to regain the lead for the Wolves, the home side ahead for the first time since the thirty-fourth minute.
Toulouse were their own worst enemy on sixty-one when Hansen was sinbinned for dissent to the referee. Behind on the scoreboard it was now a massive challenge for the bottom side.
George Williams scored a crucial try on sixty-seven off a Matt Dufty pass after the full-back had shrugged off a tackle and weaved his way across the field. Ratchford added the conversion from in front of the sticks for an eight-point lead, the Hansen ten-minute spell in the bin proving costly.
Ben Currie sealed the win with a minute left on the clock as he chased a Williams grubber to collect and ground to send the home crowd into raptures. Mata´utia had the kicking duties and added the extras as the final hooter sounded.
This was no walk in the park for the Wolves but in a season of bad results they will take this crucial one which is probably enough to end their relegation worries. Toulouse fought back well in the first half and were looking the most likely to take the points until two plays found themselves cooling their heels for ten minutes after seeing the yellow card of referee Kendall. Daryl Powell will be left breathing a huge sigh of relief as his side´s supporters will go home with a spring in their step.
Warrington Wolves: Dufty, Wrench (2T), Mata´utia (G), Wardle, Ashton, Ratchford (5G), Williams (T), Bullock, Clark D, Harrison, Currie (T), Nicholson, Holmes (T). Subs: Clark J, Walker, Mulhern, Mikaele.
Toulouse Olympique XIII: Ashall-Bott, Russell, Hankinson (3G), Jussaume, Schaumkel, Norman (T), Gigot, Navarrete, Peats, Alvaro, Peyroux, Bretherton (SB on 44), Marion. Subs: Pelissier (2T), Hansen (SB on 61), Belmas, Sangare.
Score Progression: 4-0, 6-0, 10-0, 12-0, 12-4, 12-6, 12-10, 12-12, 12-16, 12-18, 14-18 : HT : (SB), 18-18, 20-18, (SB), 24-18, 26-18, 30-18, 32-18 : FT.
Lead Exchanges: Warrington – Square – Toulouse - Square – Warrington.
Referee: Chris Kendall.