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Friday 21st February 2014, 20:00 - Round:2
|Zak Hardaker 2, Tom Briscoe,||T||Joel Monaghan, Ben Westwood,|
Kevin Sinfield 3,
Stefan Ratchford 2,
Attendance: 16,164 Official: B Thaler Venue: Headingley Carnegie Stadium
England winger Tom Briscoe grabbed a sparkling solo try on his home debut to help Leeds Rhinos compound Warrington Wolves' miserable start to the First Utility Super League season with an 18-12 victory that was more comfortable than the score suggested.
The teams were locked at 6-6 four minutes before half-time when the former Hull flier, who scored a hat-trick in his first appearance for the Rhinos at Hull KR last Sunday, popped up in midfield and charged through the heart of the Wolves defence for a glorious 70-metre try.
With full-back Zak Hardaker scoring Leeds' other tries and centre Kallum Watkins excelling on his 100th appearance, Leeds provided more ample evidence that they have the best set of outside backs in Super League.
While the Rhinos followed up their impressive opening 34-6 win at Hull KR, Warrington fans will be concerned at another below-par performance from their team, who were humbled 38-8 at home by St Helens in their first outing.
The encouragement for the Wolves was an impressive Super League debut by former Featherstone prop Anthony England and a strong display by former Kiwi international Roy Asotasi.
Warrington's kicking game, heavily criticised by coach Tony Smith a week ago, was no better but this time the swirling wind provided a reasonable excuse, especially in the first half when they faced the elements.
As against St Helens, Warrington opened the scoring through prolific winger Joel Monaghan, who read the wind superbly to collect Gareth O'Brien's high kick and juggled with the ball before scoring his third try in two matches.
Stefan Ratchford added the goal to give his side a 6-0 lead after 10 minutes but that was the signal for Leeds' outside backs to show their class.
Watkins was a constant threat on the right, with Ratchford on the spot to halt one of his breaks, and Briscoe demonstrated his kicking skills to set up a try for Hardaker midway through the first half.
Left winger Ryan Hall, overshadowed by his England colleague, put a foot in touch as he attempted to squeeze over at the corner and Hardaker narrowly failed to touch down Danny McGuire's grubber kick on the last tackle.
Warrington, who had another escape when McGuire's pass to an unmarked Briscoe sailed into touch, could not get out of their own half and Leeds' pressure duly told four minutes before half-time when the former Hull flier scored his spectacular try, wrong-footing Ratchford and holding off Ben Currie's last-ditch effort.
Kevin Sinfield added both conversions to put his side into a 12-6 lead and Watkins almost added to it within two minutes of the re-start when he was hauled down just short of the tryline.
The visitors improved after the break and O'Brien applied some pressure to the Leeds line but Ratchford was propelled backwards by Hardaker after looking for all the world like a tryscorer.
Hardaker then provided a lesson in finishing by scything through a hesitant Wolves defence to score his second try in the 56th minute and Sinfield kicked his third goal to open up a 12-point lead which was the least the Rhinos deserved.
Sinfield struck the upright with a drop-goal attempt before hobbling off and Warrington scored a consolation try four minutes from the end when second rower Ben Westwood forced his way over from close range.
Ratchford's second goal cut the gap to just six points and the Wolves could have snatched a draw had O'Brien not been brought down just short of the line.
TA: Try assists
MT: Marker tackles
MI: Missed tackles
TB: Tackle busts
AT: Attacking kicks
AG: Av gain
CB: Clean break
DR: Run from dummy half
FT: Forty twenty
MG: Missed goals