Battling Leeds hold firm to defeat former coach Smith

Warrington 14 Leeds 20
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The Independent Online

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).

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