Warrington 14-20 Leeds

A SEVENTIETH-MINUTE try from Danny McGuire broke the deadlock in a pulsating encounter to ensure Leeds denied Tony Smith a winning start as Warrington head coach.nnThe Leeds stand-off was quickest to react when Warrington’s Chris Riley lost possession in front of his own posts, stepping through the fractured cover defence to clinch a game the Rhinos had looked like throwing away.nnSmith will reflect on a much-improved performance from his new charges, with their defence in particular far more resolute than in previous rounds. nnHowever, Leeds coach Brian McClennan will have been delighted by the resolve displayed by his young side after last week’s disappointment against Manly.nnIn blustery conditions, Leeds took full advantage of the wind in their backs by racing into a 12-point lead before the Wolves had even had possession of the ball.nnFrom an early penalty, the visitors put pressure on the Warrington line and Carl Ablett was on hand to open the scoring when a McGuire grubber kick was fumbled by a combination of Matt King and Riley, who had a particularly torrid game at full-back. nnJust a few minutes later, a ’40-20’ set up the position for Rob Burrow to send Kevin Sinfield over close to the line, the Leeds captain adding the extras to both tries.nnWarrington regrouped well, however, and opened their account in the 14th minute when Lee Briers dummied his way through the Leeds defence for a try that Chris Hicks could not convert.nnThe Wolves pressed for a further score, but stand-in winger Paul Johnson was first unable to latch onto a looping Michael Monaghan pass and moments later dragged into touch inches short of the try line.nnJohnson’s frustration was compounded when his own knock-on led to a Leeds penalty for offside deep in the Warrington half, Sinfield adding two more points to take the lead to 14-4.nnBut Leeds were unable to gather the resultant kick-off, giving Warrington the field position they needed to grab a lifeline just before half-time.nnHooker Mickey Higham – demoted to the bench in favour of the returning Jon Clarke – staked his claim for a starting place by wriggling over from short range.nnWith Hicks’ conversion, the Wolves went into half-time trailing by just 14 points to 10.nnWarrington’s early season has been defined by a couple of second-half collapses, but they seemed determined their fitness was not in question, dominating the field position in the 15 minutes following the break.nnLouis Anderson was held up over the line by some determined Leeds defence, before massive hits by Higham and, in particular, captain Adrian Morley put the resolve of the champions under intense scrutiny.nnFinally, the Wolves found a way through the visitors in familiar style, Briers supplying the pass for Martin Gleeson to send in Hicks in the right corner. Crucially, the Australian pushed his conversion attempt to the right side of the posts.nnAn intensely physical game boiled over on 65 minutes, with an incident sparked by an exchange of blows between Ryan Bailey and Paul Rauhihi placed on report by referee Steve Ganson.nnWhile Leeds had spent much of the second half of the defensive, they had already given the Wolves a warning of their ability to counter-attack when Sinfield broke the line from his own ‘40’, only for Hicks to rescue the home side.nnBut when Riley attempted to return a long-kick downfield, the ball was dislodged in the tackle and McGuire delivered the killer blow with the combination of opportunism and electric pace that has undone many an opponent in the past.nnA missed drop-goal from Sinfield could have proved telling as Warrington pressed for another equalising score, but their hopes were finally extinguished when Jon Clarke lost possession metres short of the whitewash.nnWarrington – 14nT: Briers (14); Higham (39); Hicks (57) nG: Hicks (40) nnLeeds – 20nT: Ablett (2); Sinfield (6); MacGuire (72) nG: Sinfield (3, 7, 36, 73)nnH-T: 10-14nnRef: Steve GansonnnAtt: 9,863

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