Although a victory over the Leeds Rhinos in Monday night’s round thirteen game would put the Warrington Wolves ahead of all challengers in terms of competition points, it would still leave them in third spot in the table on the win percentage ladder.
The Rhinos also knew that they couldn’t improve their position in the league table with a win, but they would pull further clear of a Castleford Tigers side who were today awarded a 24-0 victory over Huddersfield as the Giants are unable to fulfil their fixture tomorrow evening.
Warrington were big favourites to continue a winning run going back over a month while the Rhinos are unbeaten since the 23rd of May, having lost a number of fixtures to Coronavirus.
Against the odds the Rhinos took the early lead after some great pressure from the Rhinos. A high kick from Liam Sutcliffe was caught by a leaping Rob Lui who needed two paces to walk over the line and ground by the upright. Rhyse Martin added the conversion for a 6-0 lead.
On fifteen the Wolves struck back as Danny Walker used terrific strength to push his way through the Leeds tacklers and over the line with a scoot from acting half-back. Stefan Ratchford added the conversion to level the scores.
Ash Handley was the provider on twenty-three as he broke down the left wing off a Sutcliffe pass and then find Alex Mellor on the inside to take the pass and canter over unopposed. Martin hit the target with his kick to re-establish the Rhinos six-point lead.
Handley turned from provider to scorer on the half hour mark as he was on hand to take a pass ten out but with plenty of work to do he evaded three tacklers to force the ball down over the line for the third Rhinos try of the night. Martin added the conversion, his most difficult of the night, for an 18-6 lead.
On thirty-five Toby King came out of the line very early to make an interception and was pulled up by the referee. Leeds pointed at the posts and Martin kicked the penalty goal and the Rhinos took a 20-6 lead into the interval.
A high tackle on James Donaldson on forty-two gifted the Rhinos another penalty and Martin accepted the present of another two points to get the second half underway. But it would be the last points that the Rhinos would score.
On fifty-two the Wolves kept the ball alive and supported well before Tom Lineham went over but the referee sent the decision to the video referee who ruled a double movement after he’d grounded short before wriggling over the line.
Warrington were having a better second half but couldn’t make possession and position count on the score board until on seventy Sutcliffe was yellow carded for a professional foul and two plays from the penalty Josh Charnley went over down the right wing after fast hands. Ratchford couldn’t add the conversion from the touchline leaving the Wolves two converted tries behind their visitors.
Rob Lui was sin-binned for a ball steal on seventy-five, the Rhinos down to eleven men for the remainder of the game.
A pinpoint Blake Austin cross field kick was fielded by Charnley who crossed in an acre of space for his second of the night. Ratchford added the conversion for 16-22 but the clock ran down for the remaining thirty seconds to sound a win for the Rhinos.
This was a tremendous win for the Rhinos over a Warrington side who have shown some great form in recent weeks. Richard Agar’s me were in the Wolves faces from the first whistle and defended brilliantly against an openly attacking side. In the end the Wolves just made too many errors, and the Rhinos capitalised on them.
Warrington Wolves: Thewlis, Lineham, Mamo, King, Charnley (2T), Austin, Ratchford (2G), Hill, Walker (T), Cooper, Currie, Hughes, Davis. Subs: Philbin, Butler, Akauola, Clark D.
Leeds Rhinos: Sutcliffe L (SB on 70), Briscoe L, Broadbent, Briscoe T, Handley (T), Leeming, Lui (T, SB on 75), Oledzki, Dwyer, Prior, Mellor (T), Martin (5G), Thompson. Subs: Hurrell, Holroyd, O’Connor, Donaldson.
Referee: Liam Moore.
Score Progression: 0-4, 0-6, 4-6, 6-6, 6-10, 6-12, 6-16, 6-18, 6-20 : HT : 6-22, (SB), 10-22, (SB), 14-22, 16-22 : FT.