I’m not sure you’d have found any Leeds fan two years ago that would have predicted they would open a season with Joel Moon and Richie Myler at half-back, but there are signs that it might just work out.
Myler, traditionally regarded as a backing up type of half-back in the Danny McGuire mould, showed an assuredness and a level of maturity that has simply come with time. Now 27, perhaps too much responsibility was put on his shoulders at Warrington during his younger days, and Leeds may now reap the rewards.
His kicking game was solid, and Myler’s durability shouldn’t be sniffed at too, he took several hits, by and large all tough but legitimate, after the ball had left his boot.
With Moon’s off-the-cuff style and flashes of brilliance, that coach Brian McDermott admits even he isn’t sure whether some of them are meant or not, the early signs of a blossoming partnership are there.
In an era of missing what Leeds used to have, decorated pair Jamie Jones-Buchanan and Ryan Hall delivered a timely reminder that they are greats in their own right and indeed that they still have a lot to give, Hall in particular contributing with two blistering breaks, including his ultimately decisive 60 metre try in the second half.
Leeds’ other two new signings, Nathaniel Peteru and Brad Dwyer, were solid if unmemorable by performance, and McDermott said their contributions were good.
The stand-out performance from Warrington’s new boys undoubtedly came from centre Bryson Goodwin, who was the sponsors’ man of the match.
Forced off earlier with a head knock, Goodwin’s return on the half hour mark for the disappointing Ben Murdoch-Masila was the catalyst for Warrington’s strong finish to the first half, with the former South Sydney Rabbitoh crossing for their first try of the season.
Goodwin offered himself up well in the left centre role, and though was a little behind the play of Stefan Ratchford a few times, will certainly prove to be an improvement on that edge for the Wolves once he develops an understanding with Kevin Brown and Tom Lineham.
Murdoch-Masila was largely anonymous, though there were two moments towards the end where he linked up with another new boy, Tyrone Roberts, down the right that will provide encouragement to Steve Price and the Warrington faithful.
One of those led to the now infamous Ryan Atkins dive to the corner, the other only denied becoming a try by an almost superhuman tackle by Leeds full back Jack Walker.
For Roberts, it was clear this was his first game, having had to sit out pre-season through injury. He took in the first hit up of the game and didn’t shy away from his work, especially in defence.
His energy levels will improve – he kicked for touch for a breather inside the first 15 minutes, only for the ball to hold up on the line – and perhaps it will only be then that we see the true colours of a man who lit up the NRL last season and who expects to score a lot of tries in open play.
In many ways, for as underwhelming as Warrington may have been, to have only lost by four to Leeds on the back of that performance may act as at least some encouragement, particularly with Huddersfield and Widnes up next.