Peter Sutcliffe, Jimmy Savile, Lee Bowyer, Billy Bremner, Scary Spice, Kaiser Chiefs, Big Fat Gary Schofield. Can you hear me Gary Schofield? Your boys took a hell of a beating!
Sometimes in sport, the result matters far more than the performance. Sometimes, you seek an improved performance regardless of the result. On Friday evening, Wire cranked up the intensity well and truly in undoubtedly the best performance of the year so far to end Leeds’ 100% start to the season.
After doing *just enough* to beat Hull KR last week, Friday’s performance was pretty much perfect.
The pack were immense all night. Sims, Hill and Westwood the experienced heads setting the example, while Laithwaite and Philbin were brilliant in the second row, racking up almost 60 tackles between them.
The kicking game, much maligned in recent weeks, was vastly improved and on the back of sustained pressure on the Leeds line, we were able to fashion out chances, three of which were taken expertly by Penny, Ratchford and Atkins.
As we went into the break with a 12-0 lead, much of the chat in the bogs at half-time was that the first half was scarily reminiscent of the previous week’s Sky game when Leeds came out and thoroughly bummed Hull after half-time.
Hull Coach Lee Radford and the Sky commentary team seemed to blame Hull’s second half collapse on the fact that the Airle Birds (No, I’ve not got a fucking clue what one is, either) only had five days rest between matches, having played on Saturday and Thursday.
Those of us with decent maths skills quickly deduced that having played against Hull KR on the Sunday, the timing of this fixture meant that Leeds had a whole 8 days between their games while we, like the valiant Hull before us, had only 5.
Nonetheless, those brave boys in the primrose and blue jersey showed no signs of five-day fatigue and withheld the Leeds’ second half efforts admirably.
All the talk before the game concerned Zak Hardaker’s latest misconduct. Ashton Golding made his Super League debut at full back while the England International was having his finger prints taken by West Yorkshire Police over allegations that he twatted a student in his halls of residence.
No doubt the Whinos could have done without the disruption, but it’d be a desperate attempt to make an excuse for the loss, especially when you consider the quality and experience that Leeds still had out there and that we went into the game without club captain Joel Monaghan.
After a frantic first quarter, during which Wire displayed an intensity and tempo a good level higher than previously this year, Kevin Penny opened the scoring when he picked up a loose ball, cut inside and charge at the line. Sometimes, sheer will is all you need to get through and on this occasion, Penny’s eagerness to just run as fast as possible worked. Leeds’ defence couldn’t stop him and the Padgate High School graduate dived over for the try.
It feels like a lifetime ago now since what seemed like half of Warrington was sat outside The Queen Vic in Lloret De Mar singing ‘Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeey Kevin Penny’ at Simon Moran. The news that he was returning to the club for the following season overshadowed the entire week of the Catalans game and it was the talk of the holiday. A lot of people will be eating their words now having seen the improvement in Penny’s game, while Moran and Smith will no doubt feel their decision to be vindicated on this season’s evidence.
He featured very little last season, but has obviously benefitted from the return to full-time training and the lack of pressure that being involved every week brings. His enthusiasm is second to none and he is reaping the rewards of his obvious hard-work now.
Wire doubled the lead before the break when they converted good field position. Gareth O’Brien, looking more and more like the first choice scrum half every week, slid an inch-perfect grubber kick into the in-goal area for Stefan Ratchford to pounce on for the game’s second try.
After another bruising 15 minutes of attrition after the break, Wire extended the lead with a try from Ryan Atkins. Stefan Ratchford, always at the heart of everything good we do, put an intelligent kick in from dummy half to peg Leeds deep in their own half. Taking the ball off their own try line, the Leeds pack were smashed to bits by Messrs Laithwaite, Westwood and Sims and as a result, tried to shift the ball wide under intense pressure. A stray pass from Sinfield was scooped on by O’Brien, who fed Atkins for a stroll in.
The travelling support was given a glimmer of hope on the hour mark when they broke from deep inside their own half on the first tackle, a neat Sinfield pass allowing Ryan Hall to burst through and offload to Kalum Watkins who released Tom Briscoe to touch down. It was evidence of Leeds’ strike threat, but it was a threat that our defence was good enough to contain for the rest of the game.
The short trip to Shit Helens next week – and a fixture we haven’t lost for four years. How very sweet it would be to end another 100% record at the home of the reigning Champions. Let’s just hope six days is enough rest…!