Battling Leeds hold firm to defeat former coach Smith

Warrington 14 Leeds 20
Click to follow

Some magnificent defence and an opportunist try from Danny McGuire maintained Leeds' unbeaten start to the Super League season, despite a second-half battering from Wolves.

Warrington, showing a marked improvement in their first match since the appointment of Tony Smith as head coach, fought their way back to 14-14 by putting the Rhinos under relentless pressure. They had Leeds scrambling on the last tackle of a set, only for Lee Smith to improvise a kick and Chris Riley to lose the ball in Jamie Jones-Buchanan's tackle.

That was the only invitation the champions needed. McGuire swooped and, although Warrington squandered a couple more attacking opportunities in the 11 minutes remaining, the game was won and lost.

Smith, once a highly-successful Leeds coach, found much to encourage him in the display of his new team. "The spirit is very good for a side which has lost its first three games," he said. "I can feel the tables turning."

It was a case of the same old story in the first five minutes, however, with Warrington conceding two soft tries.

The first came when none of a series of defenders could tidy up McGuire's kick and Carl Ablett arrived to touch down. The second came from Kevin Sinfield's short-range lunge for the line.

The problems at the other end of the field were illustrated by Michael Monaghan wasting two try-scoring chances, one with a flashy, back-hand flick to Vinnie Anderson and one with a loose pass to Paul Johnson.

The irritation at those mistakes was eased by Lee Briers scoring in between, from a position set up, like much of Warrington's best work, by Adrian Morley.

Sinfield edged Leeds further ahead with a penalty, but just before half-time Micky Higham's dart over the line revived the Wolves' ambition. They made in-roads into Leeds' lead when the ball went quickly to the wing for Chris Hicks to score in the corner.

A patched-up Leeds side, still feeling the after-effects of last weekend's World Club Challenge, did remarkably well to hold the line after that. Even after McGuire's try on that isolated breakaway, Martin Gleeson threw a pass to Hicks forward and Jon Clarke lost the ball near the line on the last play of the game.

Warrington: Riley; Hicks, Gleeson, King, Johnson; Briers, Monaghan; Morley, Clarke, Rauhihi, L Anderson, Harrison, V Anderson. Substitutes used: Higham, Wood, Mitchell, Pickersgill.

Leeds: Smith; Donald, Watkins, Gibson, Hall; McGuire, Burrow; Bailey, McShane, Burgess, Jones-Buchanan, Ablett, Sinfield. Substitutes used: Allan, Leuluai, Lauitiiti, Peacock.

Referee: S Ganson (St Helens).