Following a 42-10 win for Warrington over Leeds in the Super League season opener, here’s our five takeaways from the match at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.
Vaughan’s mammoth effort
It was a solid team display from all the Warrington squad as a whole, but a couple of players really stood out. Paul Vaughan, who arrived from the NRL in the off-season, provided plenty of power to Warrington’s pack.
The powerhouse prop, who has represented Australia and Italy internationally, really took it to the Rhinos. He produced a mammoth 55-minute stint before coming off for a breather.
Vaughan will be a big, big player for the Wolves this season. He looks to be a great signing.
Warrington’s first half display was near perfect, having led 30-0 at the break. However, they did suffer a blow in the first half as forward Matty Nicholson left the field clutching his arm.
The 19-year-old didn’t return to the field, with it being a suspected dislocated shoulder.
Matt Dufty, George Williams, Josh Drinkwater and Daryl Clark… Just wow. All four combined brilliantly to help the Wolves hammer the Rhinos.
We saw glimpses towards the end of last season of what Dufty is capable of, but he looked very sharp tonight. You can tell he’s had a good pre-season and he was a handful for Leeds all night.
And it’s no surprise to see Williams as one of the favourites to win Man of Steel. He had a brilliant World Cup campaign with England, and was one of Warrington’s best players last season, despite playing behind a beaten pack.
With the signings Wire have made in the pack this season, Williams could have a huge 2023. He’s a box-office player who gets fans off their seats.
Leeds’ short kick-offs
The Rhinos insisted on kicking short from the tee. They were successful in their very first attempt at the start of the game but it went downhill from there as the Warrington players soon cottoned on to their plan.
The next time Leeds tried it, they failed, and it ultimately led to a Warrington try in the set that followed.
Short kick-offs are smart sometimes, but if you try it too much then teams will find you out pretty quickly.
The Lathums at Warrington
There was plenty of pre-match entertainment at the Halliwell Jones Stadium, which was refreshing to see. Indie rock band The Lathums headlined the Super League season opener with a set just before kick-off. The band, who hail from Wigan, had a number one album in 2022.
And there was a world record strongman attempt at half-time from Paul Smith, the UK’s Strongest Man champion. Unfortunately, Smith was unsuccessful but the crowd got right behind him.
The Wolves put on a show to kick the Super League season off in style. The club deserve plenty of credit for that.
How it happened
- 4′ George Williams lays it on a plate for Ben Currie who runs a good line to assist the supporting Matt Dufty. Stefan Ratchford converts. (6-0)
- 7′ Ratchford penalty goal. (8-0)
- 17′ Daryl Clark runs from dummy half to score from close range. Ratchford converts (14-0)
- 22′ Josh Thewlis scores from an acrobatic finish in the corner. (18-0)
- 31′ Danny Walker extends Warrington’s lead. Ratchford converts. (24-0)
- 38′ Sam Kasiano powers over the line. Ratchford converts. (30-0)
- HT: 30-0
- 60′ Derrell Olpherts scores Leeds’ first try of the game. Rhyse Martin converts. (30-6)
- 63′ James Harrison charges over for the Wolves. Ratchford converts. (36-6)
- 67′ Greg Minikin stretches Warrington’s lead. Ratchford converts. (42-6)
- 72′ New recruit Justin Sangare scores his first try for Leeds. (42-10)
- FT: 42-10
How they lined-up
Warrington: Dufty; Thewis, Mata’utia, Ratchford, Ashton; Williams, Drinkwater; Mikaele, Clark, Vaughan, Currie, Nicholson, Harrison. Subs: Kasiano, Walker, Bullock, Minikin.
Tries: Dufty, Clark, Thewlis, Walker, Kasiano, Hasrrison, Minikin Goals: Ratchford 7
Leeds: Myler; Roberts, Fusitu’a, Handley, Olpherts; Austin, Sezer; Holroyd, Leeming, Lisone, Gannon, Martin, Tetevano. Subs: O’Connor, Donaldson, Sangare, Smith.
Tries: Olpherts, Sangare Goals: Martin 1
What they said
Warrington coach Daryl Powell said: “We were 100% completion in the first half. Our middle unit marched us down the field and we were really controlled when we were in attacking positions. As a whole team performance, that first half performance was as good as you’ll see.
“Leeds were always going to come after us in the second half and play wider, but I thought we handled it well. I think the key thing is that the players are disappointed because they were desperate to hold the zero. The fact the boys were disappointed with that just shows the group of men we’ve got at the moment.
“I thought Paul Vaughan was phenomenal tonight. I think James Harrison was good as well, with the minutes that he does. James Harrison is such a quality player. It was an awesome effort from him.”
Leeds coach Rohan Smith said: “We started a little slow on the physical stakes. They got on the front foot quite early and they capitalised on the big guys they’ve got.
“Maybe I could have made more changes earlier in the game but I didn’t think it was fatigue that was causing the issue.
“I felt everything was rolling their way and I thought it was one of those nights where when a ball bounced, it went their way. Maybe that was down to us not being urgent enough at times.
“Most of the second half we were in a battle. The opposition had the scoreboard covered at that stage but we were able to string a few plays together and send a lot more their way. It’s always hard chasing your tail.”