Leeds Rhinos 26 Warrington 27: ‘I feel sorry for our guys to have to put up with decisions like that’ rues Richard Agar
The England international kept his nerve to landed the decisive one-pointer – snatching a 27-26 win for the visitors – at the end of a thrilling, see-saw encounter which, in truth, neither team deserved to lose.
It was all-action from the start. Leeds scored two tries in the opening 15 minutes, but on both occasions dropped the ball directly from the restart and conceded immediately.
Rhinos made a high energy start and opened the scoring with an excellent try by Harry Newman after eight minutes of almost constant pressure.
It was fashioned by Richie Myler who drew two defenders before slipping out a pass which the centre finished in style. Rhyse Martin’s touchline goal was icing on the cake, but Leeds’s lead lasted less than four minutes, after Zane Tetevano knocked on returning the restart.
Leeds-bound Blake Austin and Ben Currie were both repelled by some strong defence, but Mike Cooper went over from Daryl Clark’s pass on the last and Stefan Ratchford added the extras.
It is remarkable how often teams fail to complete the set after they’d scored. It was Warrington’s turn when Austin couldn’t take Clark’s pass and again the error was punished.
Rhinos could have taken the two after Warrington were caught offside but opted to keep the pressure on and the gamble worked when Mikolaj Oledzki crashed over from Brad Dwyer’s pass out of acting-half, Martin converting.
Dwyer started against his former club in place of Kruise Leeming, who was ruled out because of an ankle injury.
Yet again, the good work was undone immediately as Myler misjudged the restart and Tetevano knocked on to concede a drop out, from which Austin crossed off Cooper’s pass and Ratchford converted.
Warrington got over Leeds’s line a third time, after 25 minutes, following back-to-back penalties, but Myler and Donaldson did really well to prevent Josh Charnley getting the ball down.
Referee Chris Kendall indicated no try and video assistant Robert Hicks agreed and rather than being potentially six points behind, Rhinos were in front by a similar margin within moments.
They got a penalty for offside in the next set and on the last, Luke Gale stepped both ways before slipping out a low offload which Dwyer collected to go over for Leeds’s third converted try.
There was another escape for Rhinos when Clark lost the ball trying to go over from close-range after an error by Martin.
Warrington hit back 11 minutes into the second half with a dubious score awarded to Charnley.
He seemed to put the ball down on Dwyer’s chest or arm, the Leeds man came up with it, but Kendall indicated a try and Hicks agreed.
“It is a real shame one of the deciding factors has been a try given by the video ref that clearly wasn’t a try, nowhere near a try,” Rhinso coach Richard Agar insisted.
“You just wonder what they are looking at. I can’t see, in all the replays we saw, any evidence that ball touched the floor. I know it went up as a try but there’s certainly evidence to suggest – from every single angle – that ball absolutely didn’t get down, nowhere near. How on earth he has come up with a try, I am not real sure.
“I feel sorry for our guys to have to put up with decisions like that.”
Anyway Ratchford landed an outstanding goal to square the scores and then booted the visitors in front with a penalty, following a high tackle by Matt Prior on Chris Hill with 19 minutes left.
Moments earlier, Ash Handley had dashed clear to set up a chance, but Newman’s pass was spilled by Prior close to the line.
With 13 minutes remaining, Warrington forward Jack Hughes was sin-binned for a late challenge on Gale and Martin took the two.
Minutes later, Newman proved what a class act he is with a sensational try, taking Gale’s pass, running across field and then slicing through the defence to make the conversion a formality.
It looked like that would win it, but in the 77th minute Danny Walker caught Rhinos napping with a brilliant run from acting-half and Ratchford’s goal made it 26-26.
Dwyer failed with a drop goal attempt before Williams took his chance.
Leeds: Myler, Handley, Newman, Hurrell, T. Briscoe, L. Sutcliffe, Gale, Oledzki, Dwyer, Prior, Donaldson, Martin, Tetevano. Substitutes: L. Briscoe, Holroyd, Vuniyayawa, Smith.
Warrington: Ratchford, Lineham, Mamo, King, Charnley, Austin, Williams, Hill, D. Clark, Cooper, Currie, Hughes, Davis. Substitutes: Mulhern, Akauola, Walker, Longstaff.
Referee: Chris Kendall (RFL)