Ryan Hall scored a brace to help defending Champions Leeds to kick-off 2018 with a hard-fought victory over Warrington Wolves at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.
Leeds- who were impressive in defence throughout- were 12-6 ahead at half time thanks to Jamie Jones-Buchanan and Hall, both of whom were able to out-jump their men to collect Joel Moon and Richie Myler lofted kicks. Bryson Goodwin scored the Wolves’ reply, his first league try in Wire colours.
Hall was able to break free from Warrington’s fringe defenders and race 75 metres to score, re-establishing the Rhinos two-score cushion.
Tom Lineham strolled over after Jack Walker had spilled a kick by Tyrone Roberts high bomb, before Leeds overcame an onslaught of attack in the closing stages to secure a narrow victory
Myler The Maestro
Richie Myler was making his first start in Leeds colours following his close-season arrival from Catalans Dragons. For large spells, his calming presence was the difference between the sides, and he walked away with a try assist and man of the match showing to boot.
If he can keep his performances consistently high, he may well hold the key to another season of silverware for Brian McDermott’s troops.
Goodwin Makes His Mark
Despite coming up on the losing side, former South-Sydney man Bryson Goodwin will be mightily impressed by his first outing in Primrose and Blue. He scored eight of his side’s 12 points, including a determined try from close range, overcoming three visiting tacklers.
He went off briefly with a facial injury midway through the first half. Nevertheless, his ability to come back with such character in the second 40 shows what a determined and resilient player Warrington have acquired.
Rhinos Defence Holds Firm
Lineham’s try with four minutes remaining ensured a nervy finish. However, the Rhinos withstood repeat set after repeat set in order to take the two points back to Yorkshire.
In a game where defence was the order of the day, Leeds’ shifting backline repelled everything the Wolves could throw at them, including late surges forward by Ryan Atkins and Ben Westwood in the final seconds- something which is sure to please Mr McDermott
Combinations Take Time
One thing that was apparent was that the new partnership in the half-back positions will take time. For large swathes, Roberts and Kevin Brown looked on different wavelengths to one another- the former kicking high whenever possible and the latter opting to run the ball on the last.
Nevertheless, those two players- once they learn how to combine their contrasting skills and expertise- could become a formidable duo that can play a huge part for Steve Price going forward this season.
WHAT THEY ARE SAYING
Steve Price: “I thought their back five were the difference between the teams. We gave ourselves a chance, we showed a lot of good signs when it was 16-6.
“As I’ve said all along, it’s going to take a bit of time with some new combinations in key areas. It’s a good starting point for us.
Brian McDermott: “It’s great we’ve won and we had to fight through some tough periods but there’s better to come from both teams.
“It’s a good start but there’s more to come.”
Warrington Wolves 12
Tries: Goodwin, Lineham
Goals: Goodwin 2/2
Drop Goals: n/a
Leeds Rhinos 16
Tries: Jones-Buchanan, Hall 2
Goals: Watkins 2/4
Drop Goals: n/a
Warrington: Ratchford, Lineham, Goodwin, Atkins, Russell, Brown, Roberts, Hill, Clark, Cooper, Currie, Hughes, Murdoch-Masila.
Interchanges: Westwood, Philbin, King, Patton.
Leeds: Walker, Briscoe, Watkins, Sutcliffe, Hall, Moon, Myler, Cuthbertson, Parcell, Singleton, Jones-Buchanan, Ablett, Delaney.
Interchanges: Dwyer, Mullally, Peteru, Ormondroyd.