Warrington Wolves 16 Leeds Rhinos 22 - Gritty Rhinos dig deep to end Warrington’s winning run
A TAKE A bow Leeds Rhinos.
What a win this was as Rhinos ended Warrington Wolves’ six-match Betfred Super League winning streak in the most gutsy fashion imaginable.
Missing three of their most influential players, plus six others, the tense 22-16 success was Rhinos’ third game in nine days and a fourth in 11 for three of their line-up.
They were down to 16 available men for three-quarters of the game and then, having tackled themselves to a stand still, had two players sin-binned in the last 10 minutes, finishing with 11 on the field.
Warrington, having trailed 22-6, pulled a couple of tries back, but it would have been a crucial injustice had they managed to pull level.
There have been better Leeds performances, but it’s hard to think of one more spirited.Warrington have also been on a tough schedule and made far too many errors, which let Leeds off the hook at times.
But hats off, in particular, to Matt Prior, one of the four games in 11 days brigade, who had only a brief rest in the second half. He was sensational, a real Man of Steel-type effort.
Rhyse Martin had possibly his best game in Leeds colours and Brad Dwyer, against his former club, was a dynamo, but it’s unfair to single players out for the fear of neglecting someone.
This was a true team effort, built on sheer desire and a refusal to lose.
It was Rhinos’ fourth successive victory and a play-offs push now looks on.
At one point in the second half, as Liam Sutcliffe received treatment, another four Leeds players were down on their haunches, through sheer exhaustion.
At that stage, there were 24 minutes still to play.
Other than a brief spell when Warrington scored one try and wasted a couple of other opportunities, Leeds dominated most of the first half to go in at the break 20-6 ahead.
After a strong start to the second period by Leeds, Warrington put them under huge pressure, but Rhinos refused to crack until the yellow card came out.
Where Rhinos found the energy from is a mystery, but they played with a high tempo from the start, opening the scoring with a brilliantly-taken try by Rob Lui after seven minutes.
Liam Sutcliffe kicked from the left towards the posts and Lui picked full-back Josh Thewlis’ pocket, making a fine catch to get between the uprights for a touchdown which Martin improved.
With Ash Handley available after a couple of injuries, Rhinos began the game with Jack Broadbent, fresh from his four-try haul on the left-wing against Leigh, at right centre, outside Luke Briscoe. Handley was on the left-wing, alongside Tom Briscoe.
Konrad Hurrell had to settle for a place on the bench as he returned from concussion, but was into the action inside the opening quarter, after Broadbent hobbled off.
Leeds conceded when Ben Currie made a break, he was well tackled by Martin; Toby King went close and then Danny Walker weaved over from acting half, Stefan Ratchford’s kick levelling the scores. Warrington caught Leeds cold on the visitors’ right-edge again moments later when Tom Lineham got away with Walker in support, but the pass inside – which should have sent Walker over – was well forward.
Then Lineham made another break, but Martin did really well to tackle him into touch.
Rhinos were fortunate to survive that spell, but recovered well and went on to control the rest of the half.
They countered to regain the lead on 24 minutes when Sutcliffe’s cut-out pass found Handley and he made good ground before turning the ball inside to Alex Mellor who went over for a try which Martin improved.
There was another escape for Leeds when Daryl Clark dummied into a gap, but Walker couldn’t take the pass – with the line begging – and Rhinos scored again moments later, on 31 minutes.
Prior, Kruise Leeming, Sutcliffe and Tom Briscoe moved the ball left to Handley and he had the strength to get the ball down over the line.
Martin’s third conversion gave Leeds a 12-point advantage and a ball steal by Prior almost led to another touchdown as Tom Holroyd and Brad Dwyer both went close.
Dwyer’s pass was then intercepted by King, but he was clearly offside and Martin took the two to make it 20-6, four minutes before the interval. Three minutes into the second period, Martin extended the lead by two after a high shot from Thewlis on James Donaldson, which proved to be Leeds’ only points after the break.
In a rare attack, they could have sealed it when Martin stormed on to a pass from Lui, but King made a try-saving tackle
On 53 minutes referee Liam Moore signalled a try when Lineham got over from King’s pass, but video official Ben Thaler ruled a double movement.
Ten minutes from time, Sutcliffe made a try-saving tackle on Thewlis, but it was high, the Leeds man was sin-binned and Warrington, finally, scored following the penalty, through Josh Charnley.
That was unconverted, but then Lui followed Sutcliffe for a professional foul after a try saving tackle on Blake Austin.
Austin exploited the wide open spaces to put a kick in for Charnley to score and Ratchford added the extras.
Leeds restarted with 30 seconds left and Austin looked to pull something from the fire, butformer Castleford man Clark knocked on and the Rhinos, deservedly, survived.
Warrington received nine penalties to Leeds’ six and four of the game’s five six-agains.