The eagerly anticipated Super League XXIII got underway at the Halliwell-Jones where Warrington Wolves were the hosts to the Champions, Leeds Rhinos, in front of the SKY cameras.


Warrington were hoping to consign a miserable 2017 to the history books and get their season off to a great start against a Rhinos side who have beaten them in thirty-five of the fifty-eight meeting in the Super League era.


The Rhinos played their first competitive match in the post Burrow and McGuire era and had their hopes pinned on debutants Richie Myler, Nathan Peteru and ex-Wolves star Brad Dwyer,  while Warrington gave debuts to close season captures Ben Murdoch-Masila and Bryson Goodwin.


It was end to end in the opening exchanges. Both sides had chances but defences held strong. New signing Goodwin went off with a head injury on fourteen and was replaced by Ben Westwood.


The opening score came seconds later when Jamie Jones-Buchanan leapt to catch a Joel Moon high kick and ground over the line. Rhinos new skipper Kallum Watkins kicked a straightforward conversion for a 6-0 lead.


Four minutes later and a delightful crossfield kick by Richie Myler was taken by Ryan Hall who pushed between two lacklustre Wolves defenders to drop over the line. This time Watkins couldn’t add the conversion but coach McDermott had the start that he’d hoped for.


With Warrington adjudged offside on their own line, Watkins accepted the option of a two point penalty to further extend the lead on twenty-five.


Back on the field, Bryson Goodwin got the Wolves first try of the night on the half hour mark when he came inside off a right to left passing move to weave his way past the Rhinos defenders to score. Goodwin added the conversion himself to half the Rhinos lead. The new signing was making a difference when he was on the field.


Ben Westwood lost the ball on the Rhinos line on thirty-five but the Rhinos managed to keep the Wolves away from the line in the remaining five to take a 12-6 lead into the interval.


A try saving tackle by Jack Walker on Ryan Atkins kept the Wolves at bay on forty-eight but when Liam Sutcliffe obstructed two minutes later and Jones-Buchanan gave away a penalty it looked inevitable that the Wolves would score but brilliant Rhinos defence kept their line unbroken.


On fifty four the Rhinos scored a length of the field try when Ryan Hall took a pass on his own twenty to turn the Wolves defence inside out and go eighty metres to ground in the corner. Watkins was unable to convert into a strong wind but after extensive Wolves pressure it was the Rhinos who had extended their lead.


Ryan Atkins should have scored on seventy-one but took flight rather than going to ground and the Rhinos defence managed to snub out the attack. Ormondroyd and Walker thwarted another Wolves attack on the Leeds line on seventy-four but Warrington couldn’t find their way over the whitewash.


Two minutes from time and a cross field was missed by Jack Walker and picked up by Tom Lineham who walked over the line to score. Godwin added the conversion to reduce the arrears to just four points with just over a minute to play.


The Wolves finished the game attacking deep in the Rhinos ten but the visitors held on for a 16-12 victory.


The Rhinos broke a seven game Halliwell-Jones hoodoo with a hard fought victory. Both sides showed some rustiness in what, for the most part, was an evenly matched early season game. Richie Myler controlled the centre field for the Rhinos and it seemed that the McGuire handover had been almost seamless. The champions account for 2018 is up and running, Warrington will have to wait until next week but can take plenty of pride out of a dedicated performance.


Wolves: Ratchford, Lineham (T), Goodwin (T, 2G), Atkins, Russell, Brown, Roberts, Hill, Clark, Cooper, Currie, Hughes, Murdoch-Masila.  Subs: King, Westwood, Philbin, Patton.


Rhinos: Walker, Briscoe, Sutcliffe, Watkins (2G), Hall (2T), Moon, Myler, Cuthbertson, Parcell, Singleton, Jones-Buchanan (T), Ablett, Delaney.  Subs: Mullally, Dwyer, Peteru, Ormondroyd.


Referee: Phil Bentham. 


Half-Time: 6-12.


Full-Time: 12-16.


Attendance: .  


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