WARRINGTON WOLVES 16
LEEDS RHINOS 22
ALBERT GOLDTHORPE MEDAL
3pts Matt Prior Leeds Rhinos
2pts Brad Dwyer Leeds Rhinos
1pt Liam Sutcliffe Leeds Rhinos
STORY OF THE GAME
7 Rob Lui try 0-4
Rhyse Martin goal (1/1) 0-6
15 Danny Walker try 4-6
Stefan Ratchford goal (1/1) 6-6
16 Injury: Jack Broadbent (ankle)
24 Alex Mellor try 6-10
Rhuse Martin goal (2/2) 6-12
31 Ash Handley try 6-16
Rhyse Martin goal (3/3) 6-18
37 Rhyse Martin penalty (4/4) 6-20
43 Martin penalty (5/5) 6-22
52 Video referee rules out Tom Lineham try (double movement)
70 Sinbin: Liam Sutcliffe (high tackle)
71 Josh Charnley try 10-22
Stevan Ratchford missed goal (1/2) 10-22
76 Sinbin: Robert Lui (professional foul)
79 Josh Charnley try 14-22
Stefan Ratchford goal 16-22
JUST when Warrington Wolves look like a nailed-on certainty for the Grand Final in October, coming into this game on the back of a six-game winning run, they contrive a performance that frustrates both themselves and their supporters, making 16 handling errors and gifting the game on a plate to an eager Leeds Rhinos, who registered their fourth successive win for Richard Agar, who has rejected rumours that he is ready to leave Headingley for a job in the NRL.
In dry conditions that contrasted sharply with those at St Helens the previous night, the Rhinos threw the ball around with an entertaining style of play against a Warrington that seemed sluggish by comparison.
The Rhinos earned the first penalty for a late tackle on two minutes, allowing them to pressure the Wolves’ line while moving the ball with enterprise, until Bodene Thompson attempted to offload and lost the ball.
But the Rhinos soon got the ball back with a ball-steal, but again they lost possession near the Wolves line.
The Rhinos took the lead in the seventh minute, when Rob Lui competed for a Liam Sutcliffe bomb that landed perfectly in front of the posts, and Lui was able to beat stand-in fullback Josh Thewlis to collect the ball to touch down for a converted try.
And Leeds attacked again with a fine charge by Mikolaj Oledzki, but they were pegged back by an offside penalty.
Toby King made a charge to the line and almost got there before Danny Walker got the ball at dummy-half, deceived the defence and went over for the touchdown that Ratchford converted.
And the Wolves could have been in again, when Tom Lineham broke down the left wing, but his inside pass to Danny Walker was adjudged to have gone forward.
And Lineham broke again down the wing, but this time he was tackled into touch by a great cover tackle from Martin.
Sutcliffe’s subtle grubber to the line forced Josh Charnley to concede a goal-line drop-out. But when Leeds attacked again, Chris Hill was able to fall on a Kruise Leeming grubber to defuse the danger.
But they couldn’t stop the next Leeds attack, which featured Sutcliffe linking with winger Ash Handley, who gave a beautiful inside pass to Alex Mellor who scored the Rhinos’ second try.
That persuaded Wolves coach Steve Price to introduce Daryl Clark into the game, and the former Man of Steel almost immediately broke downfield, but was unable to connect with Walker with what would have been a scoring pass.
Instead it was the Rhinos who were next to score through Handley, who took a fine pass from Tom Briscoe and showed great strength to force his way over, with Martin adding his third conversion.
The Rhinos put even more pressure on the Wolves’ line, but it appeared to have been abated when Toby King intercepted a ball near his own line and ran downfield, only to be brought back for having been offside. Martin decided to add the penalty for a 14-point lead going towards half-time.
The Wolves were unable to build momentum because of continually losing possession, and when Thewlis lost the ball the Rhinos had yet another opportunity, but Charnley managed to push Sutcliffe into touch.
At the start of the second half Thewlis conceded a penalty for a high tackle on Donaldson and Martin kicked the penalty to put the Rhinos 16 points ahead.
The Wolves then were awarded three penalties, giving them a chance to get back into the game, but as Daryl Clark tried to get over the line he lost the ball to Matt Prior and Leeds then earned a penalty of their own to relieve the pressure.
And the Wolves probably realized that it wasn’t going to be their night when Lineham touched down, the referee signalled a try but his decision was overturned by video-referee Ben Thaler, who adjudged Lineham to have made a double movement for a Leeds penalty.
And the Rhinos almost scored again themselves, but this time Donaldson lost the ball near the Wolves’ line.
Warrington attacked again, with Lineham breaking again, but he was unable to find Matt Davis with his offload.
Martin was adjudged to have played the ball incorrectly and he Wolves got the ball again but again they weren’t able to take advantage, with Ben Currie being tackled on the sixth tackle.
But they got another chance when Dwyer kicked out on the full, but again they blew their chance when Thewlis knocked on in only the second tackle, while Ratchford knocked on while trying to play the ball shortly afterwards.
But they had renewed hope with ten minutes to go when Thrwlis broke down the left and was tackled illegally by Sutcliffe, who earned a yellow card for his troubles.
Less than a minute later Charnley went over on the right after a quick Wolves passing movement.
Ratchford couldn’t add the conversion, but they got another penalty when Robert Lui was sinbinned for a professional foul, meaning the Rhinos were down to eleven men on the field.
And the Wolves couldn’t take advantage, with basic mistakes again preventing them from using their numerical advantage until Charnley was able to catch a Blake Austin bomb to the right corner for his second try, with Ratchford converting from the touchline to give the Wolves a glimmer of hope, but the game ended when Austin’s pass was unable to find the supporting Daryl Clark.
GAMESTAR: Matt Prior gave an immense performance for the Rhinos, looking like a player who still has plenty to offer.
GAMEBREAKER: The decision by video-referee Ben Thaler to overturn the referee’s decision and rule out a Tom Lineham try on .52 minutes, which would have put the Wolves back in the game.
TOP TACKLE: Rhyse Martin made a great cover tackle to snuff out the threat of a Tom Lineham charge down the wing.
HIGHLIGHT REEL: Alex Mellor’s try featured Liem Sutcliffe linking with winger Ash Handley, who gave a beautiful inside pass to Mellor for the Rhinos’ second try.
23 Josh Thewlis
2 Tom Lineham
18 Jake Mamo
4 Toby King
5 Josh Charnley
6 Blake Austin
1 Stefan Ratchford
8 Chris Hill
16 Danny Walker
10 Mike Cooper
11 Ben Currie
12 Jack Hughes (C)
15 Matt Davis
9 Daryl Clark
13 Joe Philbin
20 Sitaleki Akauola
21 Rob Butler
Also in 21-man squad
14 Jason Clark
19 Rob Mulhern
26 Ellis Longstaff
27 Connor Wrench
15 Liam Sutcliffe
5 Ash Handley
2 Tom Briscoe
27 Jack Broadbent
24 Luke Briscoe
6 Rob Lui
9 Kruise Leeming
8 Mikolaj Oledzki
14 Brad Dwyer
10 Matt Prior
11 Alex Mellor
12 Rhyse Martin
20 Bodene Thompson
4 Konrad Hurrell
18 Tom Holroyd
25 James Donaldson
26 Jarrod O’Connor
Also in 21-man squad
22 Sam Walters
23 Callum McLelland
29 Liam Tindall
31 Morgan Gannon
Rugby Leaguer & League Express Men of the Match
Wolves: Matt Prior
Rhinos: Mike Cooper
Penalty Count: 9-7
GLDO forced: 0-1
Referee: Liam Moore