MICHELLE Davis’ second-half brace of tries was the only reward for a plucky young Warrington Wolves side that showed their mettle but were eventually overpowered by Leeds Rhinos in a 58-10 defeat.

The final score at Headingley was a little flattering for the home side, who ran in five unanswered tries in the final 15 minutes after The Wire’s defensive efforts began to take their toll.

Down 32-0 at half time, Warrington posted 10 points early in the second half – Davis adding a conversion too – and, but for the bounce of the ball and a little more composure near the opposition try line, might have scored more before the Rhinos pulled away.

The home side got off to the perfect start when Warrington prop Claire Mullaney knocked on and England international Amy Hardcastle powered over from the resultant scrum in the second minute. Keara Bennett converted to give the Rhinos an early 6-0 lead.

If the growing home crowd expected the floodgates to open, they would have to wait another 16 minutes before their side crossed the whitewash again, after Hardcastle had once more used her power to cut through then hand on to Hanna Butcher to finish off, giving Bennett the easiest of conversions.

In between the two scores, Warrington had shown some strong defence and flashes in attack, with hooker Grace Ramsden trying to open up the defence with some probing grubbers that were a little too easy for Leeds to deal with at times.

Butcher’s try was added to almost straight away after Leeds worked the ball up field from the restart to stretch the Wire defence out wide, Caitlin Casey going over in the left corner. Bennett’s superb conversion made it 18-0.

Moments later, the home side stretched their lead despite some good pressure on the Leeds line from the visitors. As the Rhino’s pressed, great defensive work – especially from scrum half Charlie McGraw - seemed to have kept them out, only for Butcher to spot a gap and score her second try on 24 minutes.

Another score – after a strong break down the middle by prop Zoe Hornby – was ruled out for a knock but it only delayed the inevitable as Tara Moxon went over moments later to take the game to 28-0, again despite some good defensive work from the Wire.

Hardcastle ended the half as she started it, powering over from distance to take the half-time score to 32-0.

If the home side were expecting a repeat of the previous meeting between these two sides when they put 88 unanswered points past Warrington, the visitors had other ideas. A half-time reshuffle which moved Davis to full-back, Sammi Simpson to centre and Jenna Friery move into the halves from the bench gave Warrington a steelier edge.

Strong defence forced a couple of errors from the Rhinos, including a Ramsden kick fumbled close to the Leeds line. Following a break from Ramsden, Davis followed up her own kick to score under the posts. Her conversion made it 32-6 with less than 10 minutes of the half gone.

Another period of sustained pressure in both defence and attack saw Warrington begin to dominate, with Davis and Ramsden starting to pull some strings. Amy Daniels’ and Abbi Latchford’s strong runs began to make holes for Ramsden’s kicks to take effect, with Davis following one to touch down in the corner on the hour mark. At 32-10, a come-back might not have been on the cards but at least reflected the hard work The Wire had put into the game.

Just four minutes later, with The Wire again camped on the Leeds line, another kick through, this time from Davis, was picked up by Tara Moxon who went to full length to score under the sticks. The conversion made it 38-10 and, just moments later, Hornby made another great break through the tiring defence to set up Butcher to complete her hat-trick and stretch the score to 44-10.

After Hardcastle had completed her own hat-trick with a little under 10 minutes left, Bennett and Butcher both powered over in the dying moments to give an added gloss to the score that perhaps the Wire’s efforts didn’t deserve.

Leeds: Natasha Gaines; Tara Moxon, Amy Hardcastle, Caitlin Beevers, Sophie Robinson; Hannah Butcher, Caitlin Casey; Zoe Hornby, Keara Bennett, Bethany Lockwood, Elle Frain, Lucy Murray, Bethan Dainton. Subs: Kalya Glynn, Jenna Greening, Isobel Northrop, Isabella Sykes. 18th player: Emma Lumley.

Warrington: Samantha Simpson; Abigail Johnston, Emily Tandy, Katie Williams, Rebecca Nixon, Michelle Davis; Charlize MaGraw, Claire Mullaney; Grace Ramsden, Emily Downes, Amy Daniels, Georgia Westwood, Abigail Latchford. Subs: Jenny Friery, Amy Boardman, Christina Millan, Kimberley Seddon

18th player – Alexis Smith