Warrington’s veteran England star Ben Westwood was at his best tonight for the Wolves at the Halliwell Jones Stadium tonight, inspiring his team to an 18-6 victory that brought Leeds Rhinos’ 100 per cent start to the season to an end.
The Rhinos came into the game without fullback Zak Hardaker, who had been left out of the side after reports that he had been allegedly involved in a violent incident in a student hall of residence in the city.
Missing their captain Joel Monaghan, prop forward Chris Hill wore the captain’s armband for Warrington, and in a tightly fought contest the home side led 12-0 at the interval after a brilliant individual try from wingman Kevin Penny, when he came in from the wing and shot through a gap in the Leeds defence, and a try from Stefan Ratchford, who touched down a Gareth O’Brien kick to the line that was studied at length by the video referee before the try was confirmed. Ratchford converted both tries.
And they took an 18-point lead after 57 minutes when Rhinos skipper Kevin Sinfield attempted a hurried pass 20 metres from his own line. O’Brien swooped on the ball and was able to put Ryan Atkins over for a try that appeared to have sealed the game after Ratchford’s conversion.
The Rhinos refused to give in, however, and with three quarters of the game gone they scored the try of the night, and surely a contender for the League Express Try of the Week, when brilliant interplay saw Sinfield, Hall and Kallum Watkins create the chance for Tom Briscoe to touch down. Sinfield’s goal reduced the deficit to twelve points, and when Brad Singleton touched down from Sinfield’s bomb two minutes later, it looked as though they were right back in the game. However, the video referee confirmed that the ball had been knocked on slightly by Golding.
Ratchford missed a late penalty attempt, but by then the result was settled, and the Wolves will now join the Rhinos on eight points from five matches.
A full report, photos and analysis of this game will feature in Monday’s edition of Rugby League Express.