Warrington 44 Leeds 16: Rauhihi's rampage causes Leeds chaos

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The Independent Online

Warrington moved up to fourth in Super League yesterday with a display of intense, intelligent rugby that was too much for Leeds to handle.

Statistically, the Kiwi winger Henry Fa'afili led the way with a hat-trick of tries, but this was a match won in the forwards, where the Wolves pack established an early supremacy they never lost. The Warrington coach, Paul Cullen, rated it their best win of the season so far.

"Coming off the back of beating Bradford makes it all the more special," he said. "We took Leeds on. They had the first five minutes but we didn't crack and we went about our game very, very professionally."

It did not start well for Warrington, who allowed Leeds to regain possession from the kick-off and then to force a mistake from Richie Barnett under Danny McGuire's kick. From that possession Richie Mathers and Keith Senior then set up Lee Smith for the game's first try, but that was the end of Leeds' joy for the first half.

The rest was a story of Warrington taking firm control, starting with Fa'afili's first try after 12 minutes, which came after a couple of penalties had given them extra momentum. The New Zealand prop Paul Rauhihi was terrorising Leeds and it was his charge that sent them into a lead they never looked like losing.

"He made a massive contribution," Cullen said of Rauhihi. "But so did his team-mates. He gives us an extra dimension and that's why we brought him across here."

Jon Clarke, another stand-out performer, then went over from dummy half and Warrington as good as won the match in the seven minutes before half-time. They scored one try as good as any that will be seen this season: the ball went through 10 pairs of hands, with Brent Grose the last to touch it before Barnett dived low into the corner.

The other was simpler but equally effective, the impressive Rob Parker hitting Clarke's pass at an angle to catch the Leeds defence flat-footed. To stand any chance of a fightback, the Rhinos needed to strike first in the second half and they managed to do so in spectacular style when Rob Burrow ran 70 metres to beat Barnett to the corner.

Warrington's attitude was typified by the way Rauhihi ripped the ball out of Gareth Ellis's hands on the next threatening Leeds attack and, soon after that, Parker's second try, from Lee Briers's short pass, ended any lingering Leeds hopes.

Fa'afili scored his own second try from Martin Gleeson's exquisite back-handed pass and although McGuire went over for a late consolation his afternoon was summed up better by the intercepted pass he threw to complete Fa'afili's hat-trick.

"It was one of those days where everything went against us," the Leeds coach, Tony Smith, said. "You've got to accept those days. Sometimes you try too hard to get yourself out of it and that happened to us today."

Warrington: Reardon; Fa'afili, Martin Gleeson, Grose, Barnett; Briers, Grix; Leikvoll, Clarke, Rauhihi, Wainwright, Swann, Westwood. Substitutes used: Kohe-Love, Wood, Mark Gleeson, Parker.

Leeds: Mathers; Donald, Walker, Senior, Smith; McGuire, Burrow; Bailey, Diskin, Peacock, Lauitiiti, Jones-Buchanan, Ellis. Substitutes used: Millard, Poching, Scruton, O'Neill.

Referee: S Ganson (St Helens).

* Hull's England international full-back Shaun Briscoe is facing a spell out after suffering a suspected broken finger during Sunday's win over Wigan.

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