Super League: Leeds Rhinos see off Warrington Wolves
Ryan Hall scored two tries as Leeds Rhinos beat Warrington Wolves 28-22 in a repeat of last year's Grand Final.
Last Updated: 07/04/13 9:23pm
Hall twice squeezed over in the corner and the Rhinos ran in five tries in total with Danny McGuire, Kallum Watkins and Paul McShane also touching down.
Warrington were outplayed for long periods at Headingley but still had hope when Joel Monaghan's second try reduced their deficit to 26-18 with 19 minutes remaining.
But the Rhinos stood firm in defence and Kevin Sinfield padded their advantage to 10 points with a penalty.
Warrington completed the scoring when Ryan Atkins went over for their fourth try on the final play of the game.
The result moves Leeds up to fifth in the table, level on points with two games in hand on fourth-placed Warrington and four points behind leaders Wigan.
Leeds full-back Zak Hardaker was a big impact on his return from a six-week injury lay-off while early on it was the McGuire show as the veteran half-back twisted out of Brett Hodgson's tackle to open the scoring with his 225th try for the club after just three minutes.
Kevin Sinfield kicked the conversion and added a penalty five minutes later to put the champions into an 8-0 lead.
Monaghan pounced on a wayward pass from Sinfield, moments after getting only one hand to McGuire's speculator, and this time he sprinted 80 metres for an opportunist try.
But the Wolves were even more error-prone than their hosts, who took full advantage of handling errors by Atkins and Hodgson to open up a 16-6 lead. Hall came up with his first trademark devastating finish, touching down one-handed while in mid-air, while the equally athletic Kallum Watkins fended off the attempted tackle of Chris Riley to touch down at the other corner.
Unable to find a kicking game to subject the Leeds defence to any sustained pressure, Warrington were beginning to look a sorry bunch until scrum-half Richie Myler spotted a gap in the home defence to pull another try back on 32 minutes.
Hodgson's second goal made it 16-12 but Hardaker marked his return from a dislocated thumb with a 60-metre break out of defence to set up a fourth try three minutes before the break. He beat three men and, although Stefan Ratchford got back to make a trysaving tackle, it only delayed the inevitable, with hooker McShane forcing his way over from the next play-the-ball.
A 20-12 interval lead was scant reward for the Rhinos' superiority, with Sinfield unusually missing three of his five kicks at goal, but he was quickly back in the groove in the second half, along with his team.
The England captain combined with his trusted lieutenants Rob Burrow and McGuire to create just enough space for Joel Moon to get Hall over at the corner for his second try, again a wonderful finish with very little room to manouevre.
It took some good fortune to finally unlock the Leeds defence as Ratchford regathered his initial kick that bounced back off Burrow before kicking again for Monaghan, who touched down for his second try after juggling with the ball.
Hodgson's third goal made it 26-18 and spurred the Wolves to produce their best rugby of the match but Sinfield kicked a penalty to give his side more breathing space and Leeds closed out the win.