Rhinos mauled by Wolves opening
produced a stunning first-half display as they cut the gap on Stobart Super League leaders Wigan to a point with victory over struggling Leeds.by NRL
produced a stunning first-half display as they cut the gap on Stobart Super League leaders Wigan to a point with victory over struggling Leeds.
The Wolves crossed for five tries in the opening 28 minutes, all converted by full-back Brett Hodgson, to score at more than a point a minute as they opened up a 30-0 lead.
Winger Chris Riley and scrum-half Chris O'Brien both scored twice and Trent Waterhouse also touched down in the opening onslaught.
The Rhinos conceded just one further try to Ryan Atkins in the second half but the damage had already been done and the defeat leaves Leeds out of the play-off places.
And despite a brave rally which brought two tries for Rob Burrow and a Kevin Sinfield score, it completed a miserable seven days for the champions after conceding 50 points to Wigan.
Both sides came into the game on the back of disappointing defeats, but the Wolves made just one change to their 17-man squad that slipped to a narrow 23-22 defeat at Hull KR, although coach Tony Smith made a couple of positional changes.
Centre Matty Blythe was replaced by Chris Bridge, while in the pack there were starting spots for Micky Higham and Chris Hill, with Simon Grix and Adrian Morley on the bench joining Mike Cooper who missed the game against the Robins.
Leeds were missing the injured Danny McGuire and Lee Smith from the side humbled 50-8 at home by Wigan, so there was a start for Rub Burrow at scrum-half and Ben Jones-Bishop was recalled on the wing.
Youngster Steve Ward was drafted in on the bench alongside the recalled Ian Kirke.
In sweeping rain and a howling wind the Wolves could not have wished for a better opening as they scored after just 45 seconds.
A superb pass from Atkins released Riley down the left and his kick ahead deflected into the hands of Waterhouse who dived over.
Three minutes later Lee Briers and Hodgson combined to send Riley over in the corner and on 10 minutes a superb kick from Briers was pounced upon by O'Brien for his side's third try.
Nothing was going right for the Rhinos as they lost full-back Brent Webb with a leg injury and hooker Shaun Lunt had a try ruled out by the video referee as he lost possession as he attempted to touch down.
Warrington increased their lead on 18 minutes when another superb reverse kick from Briers was touched down by O'Brien for his second try of the night after confirmation from the video referee that he had not stood on the dead ball line.
The relentless onslaught continued as Riley sent O'Brien clear and then followed up his half-back to take a pass and race clear for a thrilling 80-metre score.
Leeds finally got on the scoreboard six minutes before half-time when a quick dart by Burrow allowed Sinfield to crash over, and the visitors scored again six minutes after the restart when Burrow ducked his way through a couple of weak tackles.
But the Rhinos suffered another injury blow when Kirke was carried off on a stretcher following a ferocious challenge from Wolves forward Ben Westwood.
A Briers drop goal edged Warrington out to 31-12 before Leeds claimed their third try of the night through Burrow, but Atkins had the final word with a try nine minutes from time.
Follow rleague.com on Facebook
View profile pages including statistics, results, news, photos and more on all of the following...