Leeds Rhinos 24-18 Warrington Wolves: Highlights, player ratings and talking points

Leeds Rhinos have now taken fifth place in the table.

It wasn’t the prettiest win with Leeds needing to cling on in the second half, but it was a win that will have boosted the developing character of the men from Headingley as they push towards a play-off spot.

Highlights:

Off the cuff rugby pays off for Leeds yet again
Leeds have become one of the most expressive teams in Super League under Rohan Smith and we saw exactly that again as they opened the scoring early on tonight. After a neat set play had poked a hole in the Warrington defence down the left, Ash Handley crabbed across before throwing a booming pass to Rhyse Martin. Martin then found a slight gap before his round the corner offload set Richie Myler away. He found the man who started it all in support in skipper Handley who crowned his 150th Super League appearance with a try.

Wolves bounce back
Warrington were hanging on for most of the opening 10 minutes and their resurgence paid off in the 12th minute when Warrington dealt with an Aidan Sezer break winning the ball from a knock on. Then they climbed up the pitch before a deflected Riley Dean kick fell back into the young halfbacks hands for him to dart over.

Martin continues his tryscoring streak
Rhyse Martin has been no stranger to the tryline recently and he got over for another try tonight making it four in his last three appearances at Headingley. This one was all about ball movement through the spine with Cameron Smith and Blake Austin combining well to put James Bentley through half a gap. Bentley then produced a sublime offload to put Rhyse Martin over.

A for effort
Morgan Gannon produced an A* effort to power over for a try after 25 minutes. Again a try that came from Cameron Smith’s handiwork as his ball saw Gannon crash through half a gap. The Wolves defence latched on but Gannon carried them to the corner where he squeezed the ball down.

Rhinos increase their lead just before halftime
Something else that has improved under Rohan Smith has been Leeds’ ability to score from kicks which was a rare occurrence at the start of the season. Another high kick saw Matt Dufty put under pressure by opposite number Richie Myler. The ball was dropped and Zane Tetevano was on hand to score a rare try and oddly his second of the season against Warrington at Headingley.

Warrington give themselves a chance
Warrington looked dead and buried at halftime but they got the vital first try of the second half when Leeds were caught short down their right edge and a good pass selection from the Wolves saw Jake Wardle have the strength to get the ball down.

Holmes gives Wolves hope
George Williams always looked on the cusp of something dangerous tonight, and that paid off when his delicate kick paved the way for Oliver Holmes to make it a 6-point ball game after 30 minutes of persistent Warrington pressure.

Talking Points:

Oledzki the league’s in form prop
Mikolaj Oledzki has gone under the radar in recent weeks, but he has been the beating heart of Leeds’ recent rise up the table. The polish born prop is a wrecking ball down the middle for Leeds and although being a big fella he’s been key to the Leeds attack. The energy he inserts into the Rhinos go forward generates a speed that Leeds weren’t playing with early this year and has helped Rohan Smith revolutionise the Rhinos attack.

The return of the traditional 13
2022 may have been the return of the traditional loose-forward. Earlier this year, Lee Radford made headlines when he claimed Joe Westerman was out performing Morgan Knowles as he played a key role in the Cas attack a role Elliot Minchella has played masterfully at Hull KR. But perhaps the best example of this revert back to the ball playing 13 is Cameron Smith. His introduction into the game changed Leeds’ attack and he played a key role in Leeds taking an 18-6 lead.

Warrington look to the future
Warrington were literally looking to the future today as they gave debuts to Adam Holroyd and Luke Thomas. The decision to do so somewhat plays into the narrative that Warrington are looking firmly towards next year. In the first half that philosophy seemed to work against them but in the second it freed them up to cause Leeds real problems.

Not the second half Leeds wanted but the one they needed
Might seem like a strange statement saying that was the ideal second half for Leeds even though they lost it 12-0 and ended up clinging on to the win and fifth place, but it was. This is a learning Leeds side and if they want to cause teams above them problems they’ll face the kind of adversity and pressure they faced in the second half today. They defended valiantly for virtually the whole 40 minutes and held on to a vital win.

Player Ratings:

Leeds Rhinos
16 Richie Myler – 8
29 Liam Tindall – 6
33 Zak Hardaker – 8
4 Liam Sutcliffe – 6
5 Ash Handley – 8
6 Blake Austin – 8
7 Aidan Sezer – 6
8 Mikolaj Oledzki – 8
24 Jarrod O’Connor – 7
13 Zane Tetevano – 7
21 Morgan Gannon – 8
12 Rhyse Martin – 8
11 James Bentley – 9
Substitutes
10 Matt Prior – 6
14 Brad Dwyer – 6
17 Cameron Smith – 8
22 Sam Walters – 6

Warrington Wolves
36 Matt Dufty – 7
21 Greg Minikin – 6
3 Peter Mata’utia – 6
34 Jake Wardle – 7
5 Matty Ashton – 6
27 Riley Dean – 7
7 George Williams – 7
15 Joe Bullock – 8
16 Danny Walker – 6
19 Rob Mulhern – 8
20 James Harrison – 7
11 Ben Currie – 7
12 Oliver Holmes – 8
Substitutes
9 Daryl Clark – 8
14 Jason Clark – 6
38 Luke Thomas – 8
37 Adam Holroyd – 6

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