Warrington Wolves dealt comfortably with a disappointing Leeds Rhinos side at the Halliwell Jones Stadium tonight, easing to a 26-6 victory after leading 20-0 at half-time.
The Wolves were giving debuts to stand-off Blake Austin and forward Jason Clark, who have joined from the NRL clubs Canberra Raiders and South Sydney Rabbitohs respectively, while Dec Patton stepped into the boots of Kevin Brown, who underwent surgery on Wednesday after suffering a season-ending Achilles injury in training last Saturday.
The Rhinos were playing their first game under new coach Dave Furner, with new recruits Tui Lolohea, Konrad Hurrell and Trent Merrin in their line-up. Rhinos skipper Kallum Watkins was playing his first competitive game since suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury last May.
Warrington suffered an early blow when Jack Hughes was sinbinned in the twelfth minute for tackling Hurrell without the ball following a break by Ash Handley.
But they shrugged off that setback when their 2018 Albert Goldthorpe Medal winner Stefan Ratchford opened the scoring on 15 minutes when he threw a dummy and stepped inside the defence. He added the goal and a penalty eight minutes later, before converting Josh Charnley’s try on 28 minutes and Daryl Clark’s three minutes later for the Wolves to lead 20-0.
In the second half Austin, who had a strong debut, put them further ahead, before they suffered another setback when Toby King was sinbinned late in the game, shortly before Stevie Ward pulled a late try back for the Rhinos, which was goaled by Tui Lolohea.
Wolves: Stefan Ratchford, Tom Lineham, Bryson Goodwin, Ryan Atkins, Josh Charnley, Blake Austin, Dec Patton, Chris Hill, Daryl Clark, Mike Cooper, Toby King, Jack Hughes, Ben Westwood; Subs: Jason Clark, Ben Murdoch-Masila, Joe Philbin, Danny Walker
Tries: Ratchford, Charnley, D Clark, Austin Goals: Austin 5
Rhinos: Jack Walker, Tom Briscoe, Kallum Watkins, Konrad Hurrell, Ash Handley, Tui Lolohea, Richie Myler, Adam Cuthbertson, Matt Parcell, Trent Merrin, Brett Ferres, Liam Sutcliffe, Stevie Ward; Subs: Brad Dwyer, Brad Singleton, Mikolaj Oledzki, James Donaldson
Tries: Ward Goals: Lolohea 1
A full report, photos and analysis of this game and all the weekend’s action will feature in Monday’s edition of League Express, available online or in all good newsagents.