Warrington full-back Stefan Ratchford insists 2018 will go down as a season of success

Stefan Ratchford in action during the 2018 Challenge Cup Final
Stefan Ratchford in action during the 2018 Challenge Cup Final

Warrington full-back Stefan Ratchford insists 2018 will go down as a season of success despite the club's failure to lift silverware.

The Wolves were forced to scrap for their Super League lives in 2017 after finishing in the bottom four but, under new coach Steve Price, reached both major finals this year.

However, Warrington's 20-14 loss to Catalans Dragons in the Challenge Cup final at Wembley in August was followed by a 12-4 defeat by Wigan in Saturday's Grand Final at Old Trafford.

"If you look where we were 12 months ago when we played teams like Featherstone - and no disrespect to them - we were looking at relegation," said Ratchford.

"And, even with the way we started this year, if you had said to people in early March that Warrington Wolves would be Challenge Cup finalists, top four in Super League and Grand Finalists, they would have laughed you off the park.

"So I think we've got to be proud with how far we've come as a team and as a squad in the past 12 months.

"We weren't quite good enough tonight but there's a lot of positives over this last 12 months and hopefully we can build on that in the off season and pre-season and get ready for another crack at it next year."

Warrington sensed a first league title for 63 years when former Wigan winger Josh Charnley accepted a cut-out pass from Ratchford to open the scoring after 13 minutes.

Even after conceding tries to wingmen Dom Manfredi and Tom Davies, the Wolves were pressing for the winning score, with Ratchford twice breaking through the first line of the Wigan defence only to be denied.

Manfredi's second try four minutes from the end finally ended their hopes and condemned them to a fourth Grand Final defeat.

Warrington coach Steve Price insisted that Wigan full-back Sam Tomkins ought to have been sin-binned for two first-half fouls but Ratchford, who was awarded the Harry Sunderland Trophy as man of the match, landing a 12/1 tip in Sporting Life's Grand Final preview, refused to look for excuses.

"Everyone is going to have an opinion on it," he said. "At the end of the day he didn't get a yellow card.

"We're not going to say those incidents cost us the Grand Final, we created opportunities after that and we didn't executive.

"At the end of the day, some of it's down to us and our poor execution and some of it is down to Wigan's outstanding defence."

Ratchford will be hoping to take out some of his frustration on New Zealand if he is selected by England for the three-match Test series which begins on October 27.

"It's straight back on the horse I suppose," he said. "If we can go up against New Zealand and come away with a Test series victory, I suppose that will kind of ease some of the pain of the two finals.

"Obviously it's not going to mask it over fully but it would be nice to finish the season off with some representative honours and a series win against the Kiwis."


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