Leeds Rhinos travelled to Warrington Wolves as both sides looked to start the new season with a win over one of their top of the table rivals.
New half-back pairings for both sides as Blake Austin and Tui Lolohea came in for either side.
Warrington were without Kevin Brown, who is injured for the rest of the season but Jason Clarke also started for the Wire.
Konrad Hurrell and Trent Merrin also came in to make their debuts for the Rhinos.
Warrington of-course were without Kevin Brown, who is injured for the rest of the season.
Both sides started the game with solid attacking sets and Leeds thought they had scored after theirs. However, Tom Briscoe knocked the ball on before Jack Walker picked the ball up and the try was disallowed.
The opening six minutes was extremely expansive with neither side afraid to offload the ball in the tackle, and it was a Bryson Goodwin offload that nearly gave Warrington the first try of the game. Blake Austin couldn’t gather the ball as the try line beckoned.
Leeds Rhinos were in the ascendancy as the ten minute mark ticked by and they went a man up after Jack Hughes was sent to the sin bin.
Ash Handley broke down the left hand edge and passed the ball inside to Konrad Hurrell but the second-rower dragged the Tongan down without the ball and was sent for a ten minute spell on the bench.
This was when Leeds crumbled as Warrington made sure that the Rhinos couldn’t take advantage as the home side were the first to get on the scoreboard.
Full-back Stefan Ratchford was the player who grounded the ball as he ducked and dived his was through the Leeds defence and stretched the ball over the line. He converted his own try for an early 6-0 lead.
Even more ill-discipline from Leeds meant Warrington could extend their lead to eight points. It was Ratchford who slotted a 30 metre penalty straight through the posts as Jack Hughes returned to the field.
The pressure was on for Leeds Rhinos as Tom Briscoe couldn’t deal with Stefan Ratchford in the corner. The scrum was a good platform for the Wolves to attack and the ball was spread to the right hand edge and Josh Charnley dived over in the corner to score the second try of the game. Ratchford was once again successful as Warrington lea 14-0 with half an hour gone.
Just a minute later the home side were over the line again as Mike Cooper offloaded to Daryl Clark who avoided tackles from Jack Walker, Brett Ferres and co to score another try. Ratchford with the conversion from in front of the posts.
Leeds were not at the races inside the first 40 minutes but they did managed to get the ball over the line before half-time, However, Jack Walker was held up on the fourth tackle with the following tackle coming to nothing.
As the half-time whistle looming Blake Austin and Konrad Hurrell got into a scrap on the field with it appearing that Austin landed an elbow on Hurrell while on the floor, Hurrell reacted with blind fists thrown, sparking the rest of the players to rush in and get involved. However, referee, Chris Kendall deemed that no player was worthy of a card and Leeds were awarded a penalty.
No further action occurred in the half and the half-time whistle was blown by Kendall with Leeds finishing the half pointless.
Half-Time: Warrington Wolves 20-0 Leeds Rhinos
Leeds were hoping to start the second-half off with a bang. A slow start to the half didn’t exactly bring that for the Rhinos though and it was Warrington who were on top.
An average kicking performance from Lolohea and Myler wasn’t doing the Rhinos any favours and a mistake from the former relieved the Wolves of pressure.
Their opposing half-backs Dec Patton and Blake Austin punished the Rhinos, who linked up to release Toby King, which created a two on one against Jack Walker and the second-rower passed back inside to the Australian who scored Warrington’s fourth try after an hour. Ratchford was again successful with the boot to make it 26-0.
Leeds couldn’t get themselves into the game, even as the game went past 70 minutes.
The Rhinos were once again inside the Warrington 10 metre line, and once again Warrington went down to 12-men as Toby King up-ended Stevie Ward and was sin-binned. With 73 minutes on the clock he would remain there for the rest of the game.
Leeds nearly scored at the end of the set as Richie Myler’s long pass reached Ash Handley, but Josh Charnley raced across to his opposite number and drag him into touch.
The Wolves defence kept holding strong as the edged towards the end. However, Stevie Ward managed to stop the Rhinos from getting nilled. A loose pass from Myler bounced along the floor, Ward picked the ball up and powered over the top of Mike Cooper to touch down.
The players once again flared up as Ben Murdoch-Masila dropped Brad Dwyer onto his back and Brett Ferres took acception.
The Rhinos believed they had scored once more as another looping pass by Myler reached Handley but once again Josh Charnley managed to get his opposite number over the touch-line.
That would be the final action of the game as Kendall blew the final whistle on a much tighter affair in the second half.
Full-Time: Warrington Wolves 26-6 Leeds Rhinos
MAN OF THE MATCH: Stefan Ratchford
The Warrington Wolves full-back was instrumental with the ball in his hands when attacking the line, managing to open the scoring. He was perfect at the back when returning the ball and led his side from the back with a wonderful performance.
Stefan Ratchford, Josh Charnley, Ryan Atkins, Bryson Goodwin, Tom Lineham, Blake Austin, Declan Patton, Chris Hill, Daryl Clark, Mike Cooper, Toby King, Jack Hughes, Ben Westwood.
Subs: Jason Clark, Ben Murdoch-Masila, Joe Philbin, Danny Walker.
Stefan Ratchford, Josh Charnley, Daryl Clark, Blake Austin
Stefan Ratchford (5/5)
Jack Hughes (12), Toby King (73)
Jack Walker, Tom Briscoe, Kallum Watkins, Konrad Hurrell, Ash Handley, Tuimoala Lolohea, Richie Myler, Adam Cuthbertson, Matt Parcell, Trent Merrin, Brett Ferres, Stevie Ward, Liam Sutcliffe.
Subs: Brad Dwyer, Brad Singleton, James Donaldson, Mikolaj Oledzki.