|Leeds (6) 24|
|Tries: Walters, Fusitu’a, Hooley, Bentley Goals: Martin 4|
|Warrington (10) 22|
|Tries: Dufty, Ashton, Ratchford, Nicholson Goals: Ratchford 3|
Leeds Rhinos fought back to inflict a seventh straight Super League defeat on Warrington and boost their own play-off hopes in a see-saw match at Headingley.
Matty Ashton and Matt Dufty edged Wire 10-6 ahead at the break, with Sam Walters replying.
David Fusitu’a touched down to tie the scores at 12-12 before Stefan Ratchford and Luke Hooley traded tries.
James Bentley’s try took Leeds clear at 24-16, but they had to hold on after Matt Nicholson’s late score.
Warrington have lost nine of their past 10 Super League matches, but interim boss Gary Chambers will have wondered how this match ended in defeat after they led three times and created enough chances to win comfortably.
Instead Leeds kept their play-off hopes alive, as a first win in four took them to within two points of Wire and the top six.
The two-week break looked to have worked wonders for Warrington as they bossed the opening quarter and took a fourth-minute lead through Dufty’s kick and collect in the corner.
The visitors went close again when Josh Thewlis’ boot brushed the touchline just as he touched down and Nene Macdonald produced a timely steal to deny Josh Drinkwater close to the line.
And Leeds stole the lead with their first real raid in Warrington territory after 23 minutes when a poor George Williams tackle allowed Walters to race through a gap.
Their lead proved short-lived as Dufty was allowed to break clear and send Ashton away for an uncontested sprint to the line.
Leeds’ right edge again looked fragile moments later as Ratchford broke through, but Danny Walker dropped the scoring pass with a 10-metre jog to the line beckoning.
Warrington were quickly back on the Leeds line after the break, and a Ratchford’s successful penalty kick edged Wire further ahead after Thewlis was held up just short.
Leeds looked profligate in their own half, but they were also clinical at the other as Fusitu’a marked his return to the side with a superb catch and finish to tie the scores.
Ratchford crossed out wide as Wire went ahead for the third time, only for Hooley to notch his first Rhinos try, with Martin’s third goal putting them 18-16 up.
Macdonald’s stunning behind the back offload to Bentley, while just inches from the ground, looked to have finally made the game safe at 24-16.
Yet with neither side looking comfortable holding a lead, Warrington duly set up a nerve-jangling finale when Nicholson chased down Drinkwater’s grubber kick.
Ratchford’s goal made it 24-22 with six minutes still left to play, and Dufty came close to winning it at the death but he failed to gather Ratchford’s grubber kick and Leeds somehow came through.
Leeds Rhinos head coach Rohan Smith told BBC Radio Leeds:
“We just had to find a way to get there and in the end [we showed] enough execution under pressure and in crucial moments, then the goal-kicking from Rhyse [Martin], in the end, is critical.
“We’ll take that. We’ve probably played better than that at times and not got the result, but that was a good hard-fought game, end to end.
“There’s too many rounds to go, there’s too many twists and turns, we’ve just got to control the controllables and I would say, mathematically we’re still in control of our own destiny, but it’s one mission at a time.”
Warrington interim head coach Gary Chambers told BBC Radio Merseyside:
“I thought everybody applied themselves in the right way, everybody came to work and had a real go.
“They’re gutted because they want to get a win, but I believe in the process. I believe in doing the little things and things will turn. It’s just this belief thing and it will come.
“We’ll win some and we’ll lose some. That was close, the bounce of a ball could have gone one way and it didn’t.
“It might go our way next week, it might not, but if we work hard we’ve got a better shot than if we don’t work hard.”
Leeds: Hooley, Fusitu’a, Martin, Macdonald, Handley, Johnson, Sezer, Oledzki, O’Connor, Walters, McDonnell, Bentley, Smith.
Interchanges: Newman, Lisone, Donaldson, Holroyd.
Warrington: Dufty, Thewlis, Mata’utia, Ratchford, Ashton, Williams, Drinkwater, Mikaele, Walker, Vaughan, Currie, Nicholson, Crowther.
Interchanges: Harrison, Clark, Philbin, Dudson.
Referee: Ben Thaler.