It was fifth against sixth as the Leeds Rhinos took on the Warrington Wolves with both sides knowing that a win could lift them into second spot in an already competitive and congested table.
The Rhinos were rocked in midweek by the news that captain Stevie Ward had been stood don indefinitely after continuing to suffer from a concussion suffered in the opening week. There was no place in Agars seventeen for loan signing Joe Greenwood. But kicker Rhyse Martin was back in the side after missing the last two outings.
The Wolves welcomed back their skipper Chris Hill after he missed the last three through suspension but full back Matty Ashton was out with an injury picked up in the win over Toronto.
On the Rhinos first foray into the Wolves twenty Jack Walker jinked his way through a pedestrian defence to drop over the line for the opening points of the game. Rhyse Martin added the conversion, taking the kicking duties back from Luke Gale.
When the Rhinos were awarded a penalty on twelve minutes, Martin put the ball between the uprights from twenty metres out for an 8-0 lead.
Good Leeds defence denied Tom Lineham on twenty-three as he went for the corner and on the Rhinos next attack the Wolves were penalised for an offside allowing Martin another goal kick to extend the lead.
Two storming runs from Konrad Hurrell put the Rhinos into great position and Richie Myler was on hand to torment the Wolves defence as he darted for the line, brushing off three tackles, to score. Martin was unable to add the conversion but the Rhinos took a 14-0 lead into the changing rooms.
Leeds started the second half as they finished the first with Brad Dwyer taking the pass to ground after a couple of cheeky grubber kicks, the second rebounding in to the hands of Myler off the chest of a diving Stefan Ratchford. Martin added theconversion to hit twenty unanswered points.
An awful smack around the head from Ben Murdoch-Masila on a falling Alex Mellor saw the Rhinos man receiving treatment while Murdoch-Masila saw yellow and took a ten minute rest.
On the next play Hurrell pushed his way over the line and under a mass of players claimed he’d grounded the ball. Rob Hicks sent the decision to the video referee as a try and the video official had no chance of overruling him from the evidence available. Martin pulled his kick left of the posts.
On fifty-six Ave Seumanufagai joined the party as he dummied, stepped and span out of a tackle from Ratchford to twist over the line. Martin added the conversion for 30-0, the Rhinos destroying the Wolves in attack.
Within a minute Ash Handley scored the Rhinos sixth try of the night through a non-existent Wolves defence and when Martin kicked his sixth goal it was 36-0. It had been a great night for the Rhinos, and a dreadful one for the Wolves.
Leeds dominated the game from the first whistle to the last in their finest performance of the season so far to embarrass their visitors. Something clicked in the Leeds seventeen who were close to faultless giving the Wolves no chance to built any possession or momentum. The Rhinos are up to second in the table after securing three back-to-back wins for the first time since 2017.
Rhinos: Walker (T), Briscoe, Newman, Hurrell (T), Handley (T), Gale, Lui, Seumanufagai (T), Dwyer (T), Oledzki, Mellor, Martin (6G), Prior. Subs: Myler (T), Smith, Donaldson, Cuthbertson.
Wolves: Ratchford, Charnely, King, Brand, Lineham, Austin, Widdop, Hill, Clark, Cooper, Currie, Murdoch-Masila (SB on 51), Clark. Subs: Philbin, Davis, Johnson, Burrell.
Referee: Rob Hicks.