Nervy Leeds ensured Danny McGuire’s return was an unhappy one as the Rhinos saw off Hull KR 20-11.
In driving rain at Elland Road, Leeds fell 10-0 behind through tries from Ryan Shaw and Adam Quinlan, but levelled things up at the break.
Chris Atkin’s drop goal on his Super League debut two minutes in to the second half gave the Robins the slenderest of advantages for a almost half an hour, until Jimmy Keinhorst’s late double earned him a hat-trick on the night and sent Leeds to Australia on a winning note.
Elsewhere, Warrington slumped to a second successive defeat as they were beaten 20-6 at Huddersfield.
It was hardly a classic at the John Smith’s Stadium, but two tries off kicks plus four Danny Brough conversions helped the Giants ease to victory against a Wolves side missing marquee signing Tyrone Roberts.
After a disappointing start, when Stefan Ratchford kicked off out on the full, it was Warrington who would get on the board first after just four minutes, and in some style.
Ben Currie made a lengthy break down the left and after the ball was shifted right on the next tackle, it headed back on the last via a Ratchford chip to the corner that winger Tom Lineham did brilliantly to catch low to the ground and adjust his body enough to slide over in the wet.
Bryson Goodwin hit the post from the conversion, but the Wolves had an early 4-0 lead.
Huddersfield enjoyed the lion’s share of territory and they had a shout for an equalising try on 11 minutes off a Jordan Rankin kick-thru which after deliberation between referee Ben Thaler, his touch judge and in-goal decision wasn’t given, though would have been a certainty for referral upstairs had a video referee been present.
There was no need for debate on 13 minutes as Huddersfield levelled things up, Brough sending Dale Ferguson crashing over off a short ball, then added the extras for 6-4.
Their second try was a bit more opportunist, if a little fortunate, as a cross-field kick by Rankin was batted back by Jordan Turner to Ferguson, who off-loaded to Jake Mamo. Mamo dabbed a kick through with very little else available to him, and Ratchford made a meal of gathering, knocked the ball backwards and Darnell McIntosh was on hand to touch down.
Warrington did force a repeat set off a smart Declan Patton set but were struggling to gain any field position of note, and a Brough penalty extended the hosts’ lead to 14-4.
And as half-time loomed, Warrington were clinging on, Kruise Leeming getting within inches of the line before Mamo cruised through a gap to seemingly extend the Giants’ lead – only for an obstruction to be called.
To rub salt in to the Huddersfield wounds, they went from potentially 20-4 at half time to 14-6, as they gifted a penalty to the Wolves on the hooter, which Goodwin knocked over from 35 metres.
The second half turned in to a drab affair of penalties and errors with neither side looking capable of creating anything of note on a slippery night in west Yorkshire.
It was an instance of ill-discipline from Warrington that set Huddersfield up for what would prove to be the score that broke the camel’s back. Mike Cooper was placed on report for kicking out in the tackle while in possession of the ball, and from the resulting penalty, Huddersfield were gifted their third try.
A kick on the last from Mamo looked to have been comfortably dealt with by Matty Russell, but the ball squirmed from his grasp and enabled Jordan Turner to score the try, Brough adding a difficult conversion to make it a three score game at 20-6 with 16 minutes to play.
The Wolves never really got close to scoring in the final quarter, despite forcing a couple of drop outs at the death, leaving coach Steve Price with lots to ponder ahead of next week’s trip to Widnes as Huddersfield celebrated their first win of the season.
Huddersfield: Mamo, McIntosh, Gaskell, Turner, Murphy, Rankin, Brough, Clough, O’Brien, Ta’ai, Ferguson, Roberts, Hinchcliffe. Subs: Leeming, Ikahihifo, Smith, Dickinson.
Warrington: Ratchford, Lineham, Goodwin, Atkins, Russell, Brown, Patton, Hill, Clark, Cooper, Currie, Hughes, Murdoch-Masila. Subs: G King, Westwood, Philbin, Smith.