WHAT a way to lay down a marker.

A Leeds Rhinos side that are tipped to be rivals for silverware was a tough opening assignment – but The Wire simply swatted them aside.

Were it not for a late Stevie Ward consolation try, it would not have been far off a perfect evening for Warrington Wolves.

Fan's gallery

Post-match reaction from Steve Price

Match action photo gallery

Fan reaction and match facts

Wire 26 Leeds 6 as it happened

As a packed-out Halliwell Jones Stadium watched on in jubilation, the players did what they had promised to do – attack with greater gusto while maintaining their defensive resilience.

Warrington Guardian:

Strangely, it was all inspired by Jack Hughes being sent to the sin bin – and that is absolutely not a suggestion that The Wire were worse off with their new co-captain in the side.

Many expected 10 minutes of struggle after the second rower was dismissed for tackling Konrad Hurrell without the ball, but the reality was the opposite – Wolves went up a gear.

By the time Hughes returned, they were two scores to the good and they never looked back.

Leeds could not live with the speed and intensity with which their hosts were playing.

The Wire dominated the ruck and their offloading game – something we did not see much of last year – was superb which allowed Daryl Clark and company to wreak havoc.

Warrington Guardian:

All of the back five had stand-out games in attack and defence – with Josh Charnley’s superb try-saving tackle on Ash Handley a highlight while Bryson Goodwin was unbeatable in the air and Ryan Atkins thoroughly showed up Hurrell, his more heralded opposite number.

Atkins’ inclusion in the centres and the moving of Toby King into the second row raised some eyebrows but both enjoyed solid outings.

King deserves a particular hat tip for the way he played despite being out of position – running some excellent lines that on another day would have been rewarded with points while dutifully doing his fair share in defence.

That brings us onto one of the big reasons why so many people believe this might finally be The Wire’s year – Blake Austin.

If carrying the hopes and dreams of a town and being one of the stand-out signings for Super League as a whole is a heavy burden for him, he certainly did not play like it. He showed the hype was real.

Warrington Guardian:

His partnership with Declan Patton will develop with time but the early signs are extremely encouraging.

Of course, Austin cannot do it on his own, but this was a game in which everyone was on his wavelength.

If this performance is anything to go by, we are in for one hell of a ride in 2019. More of the same, please…

Match facts:

Super League, Round One

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Warrington Wolves…26 Leeds Rhinos…6

Wolves: Stefan Ratchford; Josh Charnley, Ryan Atkins, Bryson Goodwin, Tom Lineham; Blake Austin, Declan Patton; Chris Hill, Daryl Clark, Mike Cooper, Jack Hughes, Toby King, Ben Westwood. Subs: Jason Clark, Ben Murdoch-Masila, Joe Philbin, Danny Walker.

Rhinos: Jack Walker; Tom Briscoe, Kallum Watkins, Konrad Hurrell, Ash Handley; Tui Lolohea, Richie Myler; Adam Cuthbertson, Matt Parcell, Trent Merrin, Brett Ferres, Liam Sutcliffe, Stevie Ward. Subs: Brad Dwyer, James Donaldson, Mikolaj Oldezki, Brad Singleton.

Scoring: Ratchford try, 15mins, Ratchford goal, 6-0; Ratchford penalty, 22mins, 8-0; Charnley try, 29mins, Ratchford goal, 14-0; D Clark try, 33mins, Ratchford goal, 20-0; Austin try, 57mins, Ratchford goal, 26-0; Ward try, 77mins, Lolohea goal, 26-6

Penalties: Wolves 8 Rhinos 9

Sin bin: Hughes (Wolves, 12mins, professional foul) King (Wolves, 73mins, dangerous tackle)

Referee: Chris Kendall

Attendance: 13,098