The young Rhinos returned to Stanningley two weeks after their previous appearance at the ground, where they suffered their first and only loss of the season. They were determined to get back to winning ways in their final home game of the season, with a strong lineup and plenty of excitement in the team.
The Rhinos started the game in their usual fashion, scoring first within the first five minutes. Marcus Qareqare, on the right flank, ran a great line from deep and received a drop-off pass from scrum-half Harry Smith. He charged through the Warrington defence from ten meters out, taking a couple of tacklers with him. Smith converted the try, giving the home side a 6-0 lead.
Both teams were completing their sets, which pleased both coaches. However, Leeds’ defence put pressure on Warrington, forcing them to kick the ball out on the full on the last tackle from halfway.
Leeds took full advantage of the free territory and scored their second try of the game. The forwards’ hard work laid a great platform for the backs, and Harley Thomas, the opposite centre, scored after the ball was given out wide. With a great dummy pass, he fooled the defence and twisted in the would-be tackle to dive over from short range. It was another fantastic try for the enthusiastic supporters.
Leeds almost conceded moments later after an error gave Warrington field position. However, as Warrington raced to score what seemed like a certain try in the corner, Leeds didn’t give up in defence. Dax Millington gave everything to make it across and push the Warrington winger into touch, which definitely boosted the confidence of the Rhinos team and coaches.
The young Rhinos continued to pile on the pressure, forcing a goal-line dropout in their next set of six. From the extra set of six, Marcus Qareqare doubled his tally for the night. He scored a nearly identical try to his first one, but this time from further afield. Leeds had passed the ball out wide under great pressure from the Warrington defence, but they still found space for Qareqare to race through and touchdown.
Warrington had their say moments later, using fast hands to get the ball out wide and finding enough space on the wing to squeeze through and score with winger Deacon Connolly. However, they missed the conversion, making the score 14-4 with fifteen minutes left before halftime.
For the next ten minutes, there were a few errors from both sides. Leeds did score a try, but it was pulled back for a forward pass. It was a huge shame, especially after hooker Elliott Fox ran from the play the ball, weaving through the broken Warrington defence. He had an inside support option, but unfortunately, he couldn’t keep the pass level.
However, with a couple of minutes remaining on the clock, centre Qareqare wasn’t finished scoring in the first half. He completed a first-half hat trick after Leeds gained quick play-the-balls back-to-back. This forced the Warrington defence to tighten down the middle, which was noticed by the home side. The ball was passed out wide quickly enough to give Qareqare an easy run home to score. The first half ended with an 18-4 scoreline in favour of Leeds.
The second half didn’t start well for Leeds when fullback Joe Diskin was sent to the sin bin for ten minutes after the referee saw him kick the ball away after it had gone dead. This made it tough for the Rhinos in defence for the foreseeable future. However, no points were scored until midway through the half, on sixty minutes, when Dylan Hutchinson scored under the posts. Center Jacob Hardy had taken a short pass at the line of defence and crashed through, breaking thirty meters. He found Hutchinson in support, who beat the fullback and scored. Working hard in defence and not conceding while down to ten men was a fantastic effort from the home side.
Warrington scored again through winger Rafa Van Osselaer, who dived in the left corner using quick hands and just managed to squeeze in. The conversion was missed, making the score 24-8 with twelve minutes left until full time. Shortly after, Warrington had one of their men sent to the sin bin after a slight fracas between the two sides. However, it would be Warrington to score next. A little grubber kick through the Leeds defence was collected by Kayden Johnson, who managed to score under the posts. Junior Westwood converted the try, bringing the score to 24-14 and causing a bit of panic for the home side.
But after Warrington knocked on straight from the kick-off, Leeds pounced, and Joe Butterfield rampaged through from ten meters out to ground the ball. After Harley Thomas converted, the score was 30-14 just in time for the referee to blow the final whistle, marking Mark Butterill’s side’s emphatic return to winning ways.
The Scholars’ final game of the season will be away at Newcastle on Wednesday, 26th July, with kick-off at 19:00. The game will be played at Newcastle’s Kingston Park.