Warrington Wolves laid down a real marker with a thumping win over the Leeds Rhinos last week.
It was a statement win over the Rhinos who weren’t at the races in the first half and it didn’t take long for the Wolves to warn Leeds of their attacking potential. A lovely grubber kick from George Williams really should have been grounded by Peter Mata’utia.
After that warning, the very next set saw the Wolves cross. Ben Currie was put through a gap and found Matt Dufty in support to score.
It was the perfect seven minutes from the Wolves to start the season. They had Leeds on the ropes again in the very next set with George Williams denied a try by an inch after good defence from Kruise Leeming. However, Richie Myler gave away a penalty and Ratchford made it 8-0.
A darting Daryl Clark run exploited disarray in the Leeds defence as Aidan Sezer went down injured. He showed great strength to power over.
A classic Warrington try akin to the rugby they played under Tony Smith at their best followed. A great offload from Josh Drinkwater, Clark bounced off Austin and fed the ball wide. It was then a simple case of allowing Josh Thewlis to dive in at the corner.
It was another slip up from the Rhinos next and this time a literal slip up as Myler slipped when a grubber kick went behind and allowed Danny Walker to ground.
Shortly after, Sam Kasiano was denied a try in the 38th minute by the video referee but a moment later a lovely short chip kick was claimed by the big prop to ground.
On a terrible day for the Rhinos, one of their new signings was a shining light. Derrell Olpherts did well for the most part and he produced a great finish after a Blake Austin pass – who was also one of Leeds’ better performers – to go in for a debut try.
A former Rhinos then got a deserved try as James Harrison barged his way over the line. It was followed up by a well finished try from Greg Minikin.
Justin Sangare was another debutant who impressed for Leeds and he got a try as he hit a short ball from Austin saw him go over. Bizarrely, Rhyse Martin missed an easy conversion attempt to end his record of kicking goals in Super League without missing.
The result left many people questioning Leeds’ performance against the Wolves, Rohan Smith’s approach to pre-season, but also their recruitment and even their salary structure.
This came from Richard Silverwood, former Super League referee, who questioned how trhe Wolves had a far better squad:
“I’d like to see Leeds salary structure. Warrington have a far better squad yet both will claim to be at capacity. Must be some very over paid players at Leeds.”
I'd like to see Leeds salary structure. Warrington have a far better squad yet both will claim to be at capacity. Must be some very over paid players at Leeds.
— Richard Silverwood (@SilversRef) February 17, 2023
He also questioned the departure of some of Leeds’ key players:
“I don’t see how the Leeds team will be better than last. Sutcliffe, Hardaker and Dwyer are key losses. Warrington look class. Great pack, nines playing off that and 2 great half backs. Stark contrast to Leeds. They are awful.”