Lance alarmed as dismal Leeds hit rock bottom

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The Independent Online

Warrington's big guns at last all fired together yesterday, putting further gaping holes in the wreckage of Leeds' Super League season.

Influential performances from Allan Langer, Andrew Gee and Tawera Nikau plus 20 minutes of desperate defence at the start of the second half saw the Wolves eventually run away with only their second win of the campaign, leaving dismal Leeds still without a point.

Worse than that, Huddersfield-Sheffield's win over Wakefield leaves the Rhinos rock bottom, something that would have been regarded as inconceivable at the start of the season.

A grim-faced Dean Lance admitted that he was bitterly disappointed by his side's woeful display. "It was alarming the way the defence collapsed. I'm not going to sit here and say there's not a problem," said the Leeds coach, who also agreed that the character of his team is under question.

To add to his worries, David Barnhill and Darryl Powell were placed on report and another of his most experienced players, Lee Jackson was replaced at half-time after being found wanting in one-on-one tackles.

The only bright spot is that Iestyn Harris and Barrie McDermott are due back for what now shapes as a crunch match against Huddersfield-Sheffield on Good Friday.

Both sides looked desperate for an early breakthrough and it was Warrington who got it, Langer and Gee combining for Mark Forster, who later went off with a broken arm, to score in the corner.

After Gee and Powell had been sent to the sin-bin for a fierce skirmish, Leeds equalised through Andy Hay, but soon went behind again when Langer ran at the defence on the last tackle to set up Ian Sibbit.

Nikau's break, supported by Gee, sent Warrington in with a healthy half-time lead, but they were subjected to sustained pressure after the break.

Kevin Sinfield got over for one Leeds try, but otherwise Warrington held firm.

"That defence was outstanding," said their hugely relieved coach, Darryl Van de Velde. "That was the turning point that won us the match."

Having survived that test, Warrington then struck twice in four minutes through another of their big-name players, Alan Hunte. Ian Knott and Toa Kohe-Love led the breakout that sent him in for his first and a 40/20 kick wrongly awarded to Lee Briers saw Warrington move the ball direct from the scrum for his second.

After that, Leeds folded disgracefully, conceding another three tries in an abject last 12 minutes. Gee's excellent pass sent Lee Penny over, Nikau's kick sat up perfectly for Jerome Guisset and the impressive Sibbit completed the rout.

Warrington Wolves: Penny; Hunte, Kohe-Love, Sibbit, Forster; Blakeley, Langer; Gee, Farrar, Nutley, Guisset, Knott, Nikau. Substitutes used: Briers, Chambers, Roper, Busby.

Leeds Rhinos: Cummins; Walker, Blackmore, Senior, St Hilaire, Powell, Sheridan, Fleary, Jackson, Farrell, Morley, Barnhill, Hay. Substitutes used: Sinfield, Lawford, Rivett, Mathiou.

Referee: R Connolly (Wigan).