Leeds Rhinos v Warrington Wolves: Defensive quality key to Rhinos’ realising their attacking ambitions

ONE OF the most improved players in Super League over the past few years. Brad Dwyer will get another opportunity to show his old club Warrington Wolves what they are missing when they visit Leeds Rhinos tomorrow.

Dwyer, 28, is in his fourth season with Leeds and produced a game-changing performance off the substitutes’ bench when they won 22-12 at Hull two days ago.

For an hour, it seemed only a matter of time before Hull turned pressure into points, but Leeds’ defence stood firm and once they got on the front foot, the visitors, with Dwyer leading the way, proved lethally effective close to the home side’s line.

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“We really feel like we are our own worst enemy at times and we beat ourselves,” reflected Dwyer. “If we are ripping in and putting in the effort defensively, we’ve shown what we can do on attack.

Leeds Rhinos' Brad Dwyer celebrates scoring his side's first try against Hull FC on Thursday night. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe.

“If we are giving the ball away and giving penalties away, that’s the only thing that will stop us. We will back ourselves against most teams. For us, it’s about nailing that.

“In the first half we turned too much ball over and gave them field position with penalties and that meant we had no energy to attack.

“Then, when the shoe was on the other foot in the second half, we were really good. That’s something we have been working on over the last couple of weeks.”

How much energy Thursday’s defensive effort took out of Leeds will only become clear tomorrow evening. Backing up three days later against one of the competition’s most in-form teams is an acid test, less than a month after a spell of four matches inside two weeks.

FAMILIAR FACES: Brad Dwyer comes up against former club Warrington Wolves earlier this month. Picture: Simon Hulme.

Dwyer admitted: “It is difficult, I am still struggling from the short turnarounds when we played four games in 13 days, because we were down to the bare bones and all the minutes we had to do in the middle.

“But now we have got a few numbers back, Kruise [Leeming] and I can spell each other so hopefully we can get ourselves through it a bit better this time.

“Everyone’s in the same boat, it is just about how we manage it. Hopefully we will rock up and put our best foot forward on Sunday.”

Warrington’s only defeat in their last eight Super League games was at home to Leeds almost four weeks ago.

“They were going well the last time we played them,” said Dwyer. “But we are very much focused on ourselves.

“If we play a certain way we will trouble Warrington, if we don’t, it will be a difficult match for us.

“It is about us turning up and delivering that the best we can and stopping some of the threats Warrington have got, because they are a great team.”

A win for Leeds would be a giant step towards the all-important top-six.

Dwyer pointed out: “Games are coming thick and fast so after a good week or a good couple of results we’ll be right in the mix. We are focusing on discipline and on ourselves and if we get that right, hopefully we will be where we need to be at the end of the year.”

To his own obvious delight, the replacement hooker scored Leeds’ opening try in Thursday’s game and provided the pass for Cameron Smith’s touchdown which put the result beyond Hull’s reach.

“I was really happy with how it went,” said Dwyer, who insisted he is equally willing to play as a substitute or in the run-on 13.

“I have proved in the past I can have an impact on a game coming off the bench and I’ve proved I can start.

“For me, it can change week-in, week-out; whatever I am asked to do, I am just going to try and perform and do my best.

“Fortunately [against Hull], I could have an impact on the team, which made me really happy because of the effort the boys put in for each other.

“We spent 60 minutes defending and some of our scramble defence was outstanding.

“That’s probably what some of my reaction to the try was about; to come on and reward the boys for all their effort.”