Briers puts champions deeper in trouble

Warrington 37 Leeds 18

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The Independent Online

Leeds' mid-term depression deepened as they were thrown to the Wolves in a one-sided and decisive first-half here.

The champions, who achieved some late respectability but were well beaten long before the interval, are marooned in ninth place in Super League after Warrington dominated the collisions and Lee Briers did as he pleased.

A storm-tossed night did not seem the ideal time or place to start shaking off a mid-season crisis, and so it proved in a disastrous first half-hour. Ryan Atkins did much of the early damage, retrieving a loose pass and releasing Chris Riley, whose kick-ahead took a freak bounce into the arms of Trent Waterhouse for the game's first try in its first minute.

There followed a little master-class from Briers, who sprayed the ball wide for Riley to score. Two exquisite kicks then created tries for Gareth O'Brien, even though he looked to have stopped dead for the second of them. The video referee was satisfied and everything was going the Wolves' way.

That continued when Riley broke from deep, exchanged passes with O'Brien and claimed his second try, improved by Brett Hodgson's fifth conversion.

Kevin Sinfield did get one back for the Rhinos before half-time, but it had still been another chastening 40 minutes.

Leeds narrowed the yawning gap a little further at the start of the second half, when Ben Harrison was penalised for not playing the ball properly and Rob Burrow skipped past a series of tackles in superb fashion.

Briers took the precaution of putting over a drop goal, but that flattered Leeds, who were never going to mount a meaningful fightback, even though Burrow got a second with 11 minutes to play.

Atkins restored order with the sixth Warrington try, the multi-talented O'Brien kicking the extra points.

Warrington: Hodgson; Riley, Atkins, Bridge, Monaghan; Briers,O'Brien; Hill, Higham, Carvell, Waterhouse, Westwood, Harrison. Substitutes used: Morley, Grix, Cooper, Ratchford.

Leeds: Webb; Jones-Bishop, Ablett, Hardaker, Hall; Sinfield, Burrow; Leuluai, Lunt, Peacock, Jones-Buchanan, Delaney, Bailey. Substitutes used: Ward, Griffin, Kirke, Clarkson.

Referee: B Thaler (Wakefield)