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GUARDIAN VERDICT: Warrington Wolves 24 Leeds Rhinos 6
VERY few teams could have defeated Leeds Rhinos the way Warrington Wolves did on Friday.
And that they did in such convincing manner should be a massive boost to the players' belief in themselves as well as their confidence levels.
For this was like a haulage truck versus a sports car, a rhino against a wolf even, with the little guy coming out on top.
Tony Smith had three half backs - Chris Bridge, Stefan Ratchford and Richie Myler - and two hookers - Michael Monaghan and Micky Higham - on the field at the same time for much of the game, leaving Wolves looking light and possibly vulnerable to heavy artillery attacks.
On the contrary, it actually caused Leeds issues, especially with Wolves’ tigerish defence punching above its weight.
Losing the services of back rowers James Laithwaite and Ben Currie to injury, while missing regulars Trent Waterhouse and Ben Westwood, merely steered Wolves to continue on the flight path they had set out on anyway.
Tony Smith's tactics of playing the game at a pace that older and heavier legs in the Leeds ranks could not live with worked superbly.
From fast play-the-balls and scurries around the ruck to whipped passing reaching the fringes, Wolves ran Rhinos off their feet.
And all that groundwork meant holes eventaully appeared like a parting of the seas, providing the way for four converted tries and four other close calls against the stingiest defence Super League has seen for some time.
Skipper Michael Monaghan was magnificent at dummy half in making the most of the opportunies that arose for the entire 80 minutes, while remaining big men Chris Hill, Anthony England and Ben Harrison were outstanding at holding the fort and building a platform for the nippy blokes.
The fans understandably loved it, as they and the players bounced off each other's vibes.
All will be hoping the form now shown in four successive Super League wins will provide the yardstick for the rest of the campaign.
Chris Bridge’s second try against Leeds Rhinos was the 100th of his Warrington Wolves career
Bridge’s second conversion against Leeds took him past 1,000 career points.
His current total of 1,009 has been accrued as follows: 28 for Bradford (2003-2004: 4 tries, 6 goals), 917 for Warrington (2005-2014: 100 tries, 258 goals, 1 drop goal), 4 for England (2009-2011: 1 try), 32 for Ireland (2006-2007: 2 tries, 12 goals) and 28 for Super League under 21s (2003: 3 tries, 8 goals).
Four tries is the most scored against Leeds Rhinos by any team this year.
Leeds Rhinos’ heaviest defeat of the season so far
Wolves have now won eight and lost seven of Halliwell Jones Stadium matches against Leeds
Super League Round 15 Friday, May 30, 2014
Warrington Wolves...24 Leeds Rhinos...6
Wolves: Matty Russell; Gene Ormsby, Joel Monaghan, Ryan Atkins, Rhys Evans; Stefan Ratchford, Chris Bridge; Chris Hill, Michael Monaghan, Anthony England, James Laithwaite, Ben Currie, Ben Harrison. Subs: Richie Myler, Micky Higham, Roy Asotasi, Ben Evans.
Rhinos: Zak Hardaker; Tom Briscoe, Kallum Watkins, Joel Moon, Ryan Hall; Danny McGuire, Kevin Sinfield; Kylie Leuluai, Robbie Ward, Jamie Peacock, Mitch Achurch, Carl Ablett, Chris Clarkson. Subs: Stevie Ward, Ian Kirke, Liam Sutcliffe, Brad Singleton.
Scoring: Bridge try, 18mins, Bridge goal, 6-0; Hill try, 32mins, Bridge goal, 12-0; Bridge try, 36mins, Bridge goal, 18-0; Bridge penalty goal, 56mins, 20-0; Leuluai try, 62mins, Sinfield goal, 20-6; Joel Monaghan try, 78mins, 24-6.
Referee: James Child
Penalties: Wolves 5 Rhinos 3
Top Man: Michael Monaghan
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