Pictures Eddie Whitham
WARRINGTON Wolves boosted their play-off hopes with a hard-fought 32-6 win over Leeds.
The win was not quite as comfortable as predicted against a second string Rhinos side, with the majority of their first-teamers on the sidelines ahead of Saturday’s Challenge Cup final against Salford.
Only a penalty goal separated the two sides at half time, but the Wolves proved too strong in the second half to snap their three game losing streak and gain an important advantage in the table over one of their rivals for a top four spot in Super League.
It looked like being a routine evening at the Halliwell Jones Stadium when Toby King marked his 100th appearance for the club with a try in the fifth minute.
But youthful Leeds had other ideas, and they hit back on 17 minutes when former Widnes youngster Sam Walters crossed for his first Super League try, converted by another ex-Widnes academy player Jarrod O’Connor, son of Sky Sports pundit and former Great Britain international Terry.
Although handling errors prevented Leeds causing further damage, Warrington’s frustration was evident, and Sitaleki Akauola was sinbinned for the final 10 minutes of the first half for a dangerous tip tackle.
After withstanding some pressure with a man less, the Wolves steadied the ship and then took a penalty through Stefan Ratchford shortly before the break to take an 8-6 lead in to the sheds.
The second half also proved a tough assignment, at least for the first 20 minutes, even though Matty Ashton’s try stretched their lead to six after 51 minutes.
Shortly after the hour mark, Toby King batted down Dec Patton’s kick for Ben Currie to score a try that broke Leeds’ resolve, and then as the young Rhinos tired in the final quarter, the Wolves were able to add some valuable points to their tally.
Ratchford converted that try and then added a penalty on 71 minutes for 20-6, before two late tries from Daryl Clark and Ashton rounded off the win.
Warrington: Ratchford, Ashton, Gelling, King, Charnley, Widdop, Patton, Hill, Walker, Robson, Currie, Hughes, J Clark. Subs: D Clark, Davis, Akauola, Johnson.
Leeds: Walker, L Briscoe, Thompson, Evans, Tindall, Broadbent, McLelland, Cuthbertson, O’Connor, Holroyd, Ferres, Walters, Smith. Subs: Harrison, Mustapha, McConnell, Whiteley.