Two games into the new season and Warrington fans' optimism is slowly dwindling. Tony Smith departed the club in the off-season after nine years at the helm and was replaced by Cronulla Sharks' assistant coach Steve Price with Andrew Henderson swapping London for Cheshire to become Price's second-in-command. Not only was there an overhaul in management, but the same can also be said of the squad.

13 departed before the season started including the retiring Kurt Gidley and prop Ashton Sims with six joining the club. A fresh new era dawned and, on the back of this, confidence was high amongst Wire fans that the club would bounce back from their dismal ninth-placed finish in 2017.

But, back-to-back defeats have given Price and Warrington fans a harsh reality check.

What's wrong?

Warrington, arguably, had one of the toughest games of the opening round of fixtures; a home tie against reigning champions Leeds provided an opportunity to lay down a marker as early as possible. A 12-16 defeat, on paper, does not appear too disheartening. However, whilst Warrington were unlucky, they were also wasteful; Ryan Atkins' laughable try-scoring attempt deep into the second half could go down in history as the worst dive for the corner ever attempted - something which the centre duly acknowledged on social media after the game.

But it was the lack of fluency in attack that would have worried Wire fans the most; Ben Westwood's dropping of the ball with the line gaping just before the break epitomised the Wolves' carelessness.

Stefan Ratchford, meanwhile, had a nightmare at the back, piling the pressure on his side with two errors whilst his missed tackle on the rampaging Ryan Hall allowed the powerful winger to stretch the Rhinos further in front.

And, though there were just four points in it as the final whistle blew, after Leeds had taken charge, Warrington never really looked like winning.

Even on the last set of the game, deep in Leeds' half, Warrington's attack looked lacklustre and devoid of any urgency.

Same old errors

Wind the clock forward seven days and Warrington were up against a Huddersfield Giants' side that had been hammered the week before at Hull FC. Surely, believed the Wolves' faithful, they would be too strong for a side that finished just one point above them in 2017.

However, the writing was on the wall for Warrington even before kick-off as marquee signing Tyrone Roberts was sidelined with a knee problem. In fact, Warrington looked far more disappointing in round two than they had done in round one. Despite taking an early lead, the Wolves were once more second best in another error-strewn display.

Huddersfield's first try was scored through very soft defence, whilst their second and third efforts were made possible by horrendous handling errors by Stefan Ratchford and Matty Russell as they both looked to deal with kicks. And, yet again, Warrington squandered two four-pointers; first, Tom Lineham could not take Declan Patton's cross-field chip with the line begging early in the first half, and, well into the second forty minutes, Kevin Brown - with the whitewash in sight - found the touchline rather than the two men he had outside him.


The manner of the defeat would have also disappointed head coach Price, particularly the Wolves' discipline; Warrington prop Mike Cooper, for example, was placed on report for an alleged kick whilst in possession of the ball and the Wolves, on the whole, approached the game with a petulant attitude. And, although both sides made plenty of handling errors on a rain-soaked night at the John Smiths Stadium, none of Huddersfield's mistakes ultimately cost them points.

Early days

The season is still, ultimately, in its infancy, but Steve Price must do something to arrest the current slump - a slump continued, in fact, from last season. Yes, the Wolves have a brand-new coaching staff and a host of new players, but once the rot sets in at a club - as no one can deny it did in 2017 - it is incredibly difficult to remove.

Nothing is won in February, but ground on the top sides can be lost: even after just two rounds, Warrington find themselves four points behind Leeds.

Warrington's attack, meanwhile, does not exactly fill a fan with a confidence; the Cheshire club have scored just 18 points in two games and have spurned a number of opportunities. If Warrington can cut out their stupid mistakes and actually take their chances, they will start winning games. Without significant improvement however, the Wolves could be in for another rocky road in 2018.