Wolves beat champions Rhinos in opening-day thriller


Leeds Rhinos' Super League defence started with a loss as Warrington Wolves won a pulsating season opener 12-10 at Headingley on Thursday.

The Rhinos dominated domestically last season and collected a League Leaders' Shield, Grand Final and Challenge Cup treble to send greats Kevin Sinfield, Jamie Peacock and Kylie Leuluai out on a high in retirement.

Leeds' youngsters have subsequently been challenged to step up in the trio's absence, but first-half pressure failed to produce points and Warrington - who had eight players on the injured list - led at the break through Chris Sandow's try.

The hosts went in front with scores from Brad Singleton and Ryan Hall, but the decision to turn down three kicks at goals between those tries proved costly as Kevin Penny's brilliant converted try sealed Warrington's win.

Warrington held firm against sustained first-half Leeds pressure and struck the first blow in the 36th minute as Sandow cleverly dummied the Leeds defence to score near the posts.

Leeds lost newly appointed captain Danny McGuire to a knee injury at half-time, but were level shortly after the restart when Singleton touched down from close range.

After passing up three kicks at goal from penalties, Leeds moved ahead in the 57th minute with a fine try. 

Joel Moon surged through the defence before cleverly offloading to Jordan Lilley, who in turn picked out Hall to crash over the line - Zak Hardaker, Super League's Man of Steel, missed the resulting conversion

A moment of brilliance restored Warrington's lead.

Ben Currie collected Sandow's deft kick and offloaded to Penny to finish the move and debutant Kurt Gidley added the extras to put the visitors back ahead.

Rob Burrow was held up just before the line as the Rhinos sought a response, while Hardaker's poorly executed penalty meant the hosts failed to tie up the game in the closing stages.