Warrington finally got their first league points on the board last week after a 22-22 draw with Hull FC. The Wolves are certainly improving, but still have a long way to go if they want to be competing when the season enters its final stages.
The Wire have been their own worst enemies on numerous occasions this season, with Tony Smith blaming “self-inflicted harm” as a major factor in their lack of results. A good second half performance was what got them a draw last week, though, and it seems as if things are finally starting to click at the Halliwell Jones. Matty Russell proved just how much of a strike weapon he can be, with a hat trick of tries that all took some considerable finishing.
Leeds’ scintillating form at the minute certainly hasn’t gone under the radar, with the former Super League champions currently unbeaten in their last four and level on points with Castleford at the top. Their biggest test so far came last week against Wigan, but the Rhinos were up to it, brushing the Warriors aside with a dominant 26-18 victory. Their performances this season are a far cry from what they were producing last year, with the squad as a whole looking much more settled and comfortable. Fullback Ashton Golding has really stepped up and fulfilled the fullback role vacated by Zak Hardaker, while his goal kicking has come on in leaps and bounds and proved to be vital for the Rhinos.
The big squad news for the Wolves is the absence of Kevin Brown through concussion, after the standoff failed to recover from a head knock sustained in last week’s draw. Dec Patton comes in to replace him, with the young half looking to prove himself after being dropped earlier in the year. Tom Lineham is also back in contention to start, after missing the last two games through suspension. He replaces Jack Johnson in the 19. Rookie Harvey Livett will be looking to regain his place in the matchday squad, after missing out last week for the first time this season.
There’s no Brett Ferres for the Rhinos, after the second rower picked up a six-game suspension for his crusher tackle on Oliver Gildart last week, which will see the Wigan centre miss at least two to three months with a serious back injury. Ferres has since apologised for the incident and claimed that there was no intent in his actions. He is replaced by Jordan Baldwinson in the squad, while Polish-born prop Mikolaj Oledzki could be set to debut after coming in for Ash Handley. The 18-year-old featured for Bradford earlier this year, but is now back in the fold at Headingley in the hope of some first team action.
Warrington Wolves: Stefan Ratchford, Tom Lineham, Rhys Evans, Ryan Atkins, Matty Russell, Kurt Gidley, Chris Hill, Daryl Clark, Ashton Sims, Jack Hughes, Joe Westerman, Mike Cooper, Brad Dwyer, George King, Toby King, Declan Patton, Joe Philbin, Harvey Livett, Ben Westwood
Leeds Rhinos: Ashton Golding, Tom Briscoe, Kallum Watkins, Joel Moon, Ryan Hall, Danny McGuire, Rob Burrow, Matt Parcell, Adam Cuthbertson, Jamie Jones-Buchanan, Carl Ablett, Liam Sutcliffe, Brett Delaney, Mitch Garbutt, Jimmy Keinhorst, Anthony Mullally, Josh Walters, Jordan Baldwinson, Mikolaj Oledzki