Leeds barbed by Wire

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The Independent Online
Rugby League

DAVE HADFIELD

Leeds 18 Warrington 22

Leeds' winter of discontent, which they hoped had ended with their Challenge Cup semi-final defeat last weekend, continued into the first summer of Super League when they gave themselves too big a task to comeback in the last half hour against Warrington.

When Leeds trailed 22-6 early in the second half it was no more than they deserved for a flaccid and formless display up to that point. A mistake from Warrington's Tongan winger, Mateaki Mafi, then gave Leeds hope. His fumble in his own 25 paved the way for George Mann to score and now, at last, Leeds seemed to believe that they could win.

With the Welsh forward, Mark Jones, in the sin-bin, Leeds went close through Mann and their debutant winger, Paul Gleadhill. When they did score Mafi was at fault again, allowing Nick Fozzard to go right through him on the way to the try-line.

The scene was set for a great escape but the nearest Leeds could get was a lost ball by Graham Holroyd that summed up much of the handling by both sides.

Leeds had begun their Super League season deplorably. Not only did the sky-divers fail to turn up, it seemed for much of the first half that many of the players were floating somewhere in the ether with them.

They could not contain a Warrington side which, although prone to mistakes themselves, at least had some direction from half-back, with Mike Ford playing like a man trying to earn himself a future at the club and Iestyn Harris the game's most dangerous individual.

Harris scored a glorious side-stepping try as well as kicking five goals and also figured in the move that saw Mafi claim a touchdown.

"We thought we had got it won at half-time and when we scored again soon after through Ian Knott we became a bit flat," Harris said. "In the end we were a bit lucky to hang on, but we can improve on that performance by 25 to 30 per cent."

Leeds: Gibbons; Fallon, Iro, Hassan, Gleadhill, Cummins; Holroyd (Vassilakopoulos, 73), Harmon; Shaw, Howard (McDermott, 20, Howard, 57), Mann, Schultz (Fozzard, 23), Morley. Substitute not used: Riley.

Warrington: Penny; Forster, Rudd, Finau, Mafi; Harris, Ford; Hilton, Hough (Shelford, 77), Chambers (Jones, 21), Knott (Wainwright, 21), Cullen (Knott, 47), Sculthorpe. Substitute not used: Kohe-Love.

Referee: R Smith (Castleford).

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