Warrington Wolves will look to record back-to-back opening day wins over Leeds Rhinos when the two teams duke it out once more to get Betfred Super League XXVIII off and running at the Halliwell Jones Stadium on Thursday night.
The Wolves were 22-20 winners at Headingley in round one of the 2022 season after Leeds had been reduced to 12 men for the final 65 minutes as a result of James Bentley’s debut red card for a high tackle on Gareth Widdop. But it was the Rhinos who eventually went on to have the better campaign, rallying from 11th midway through the season to reach the Grand Final at Old Trafford under new coach Rohan Smith.
So what does Thursday have in store? Here’s the full rundown.
Warrington Wolves v Leeds Rhinos
Where: Halliwell Jones Stadium, Warrington.
When: 7.45pm (GMT)
TV: Sky Sports Arena and Sky Sports Main Event
Warrington’s last five: Won 32-14 @ Salford (03/09/22), Lost 36-38 @ Huddersfield (29/08/22), Lost 18-19 v Castleford (25/08/22), Lost 18-24 @ Leeds (19/08/22), Won 32-18 v Toulouse (11/08/22)
Leeds’ last five: Lost 12-24 v St Helens (24/09/22 – Grand Final), Won 20-8 @ Wigan (16/09/22 – semi-final), Won 20-10 @ Catalans (09/09/22 – eliminator), Won 14-8 v Castleford (03/09/22), Lost 18-32 @ Catalans (29/08/22)
Betfred match winner odds (80 minutes): Warrington 4/6, Leeds 5/4, draw 20/1
First try scorer odds: Matty Ashton (Warrington) 15/2, Matt Dufty (Warrington) 15/2, Josh Thewlis (Warrington) 8/1, Ash Handley (Leeds) 8/1, David Fusitu'a (Leeds) 9/1
Stefan Ratchford needs one appearance to reach 300 for Warrington Wolves, and with four more goals the new club captain will have 500 for the Wolves (494 conversions and penalties, two drop-goals)
Matty Russell needs three tries to reach 100 for his career. His 97 so far have come from 31 with the Wolves, 13 at Toulouse Olympique, seven for Leigh Centurions, 38 for the Toronto Wolfpack, three for Wigan Warriors and five with his national side Scotland.
Aidan Sezer needs one appearance to reach 200 in his career. Beyond his 17 games for Leeds Rhinos last season, he has also made 25 for Huddersfield Giants, 84 for Canberra Raiders, 71 for Gold Coast Titans, one for the Combined Nations All-Stars and one for NSW City.
Round 24, 2022: Leeds Rhinos 24, Warrington Wolves 18
Round 14, 2022: Warrington Wolves 4, Leeds Rhinos 40
Round 1, 2022: Leeds Rhinos 20, Warrington Wolves 22
Round 17, 2021: Leeds Rhinos 26, Warrington Wolves 27
Round 13, 2021: Warrington Wolves 16, Leeds Rhinos 22
Total Super League meetings: 64 (Warrington 25, Leeds 38, one draw)
For Warrington and their head coach Daryl Powell it was a disappointing first year together after the former Castleford Tigers boss made a fresh start following eight-and-a-half years at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle. But in 2023 they are hoping to make significant strides forward having landed some big-name additions from the NRL.
However, they will have to start without one of those superstars after Josh McGuire had a seven-match ban confirmed on Tuesday at an Operational Rules Tribunal for “unacceptable language (disability dicrimination)”. The incident, which came against Leigh Leopards in Ben Currie’s testimonial fixture, could cost Warrington hugely over the first couple of months of the season.
Leeds are looking to back up the second half of their 2022 campaign, with the likes of Justin Sangare, Derrell Olpherts and Sam Lisone added to their ranks. Rohan Smith has been given plenty of positive feedback both from his players and within the game following his 19-game run last term, but now the pressure will be on the Rhinos coach in a way it wasn't first time around.
Sportsman stat: Only St Helens have a better record than the Rhinos in round 1 of Super League over the years, with Saints boasting 21 wins and one draw in 27 attempts compared to Leeds' 20 from 27.
*18+ | BeGambleAware | Odds Subject to Change