Leeds 12-26 Wigan

James Gordon

Wigan moved a step closer to the league leaders shield with a 26-12 win over Leeds at Headingley.

In a fiery encounter, Leeds fought back from 12-0 down shortly after the break to take the game to their opponents, but the Warriors rose to the challenge to see off the champions.

The game got off to a strange start, with Kevin Sinfield kicking out on the full straight from the kick-off, before Andy Coley‘s knock-on meant the visitors couldn’t take advantage.

The Warriors soon gained a foothold in the game though, and after creating space down the right, Thomas Leuluai pounced on Darrell Goulding‘s clever inside kick to give the visitors the lead.

Leeds were fortunate to keep 13 players on the pitch when Carl Ablett was placed on report for a high shot on Wigan full back Sam Tomkins, but it mattered not to the leaders, who doubled their advantage when George Carmont took a couple of Rhinos defenders over the line and did well to ground the ball.

The home side gradually fought their way back in to the match, and they were handed a path back in to the game when young loose forward Chris Clarkson surged through the defence to score right on half time, and reduce arrears to 12-6.

The champions were handed the initiative early in the second half when Andy Coley was sin-binned for a late hit on Rob Burrow, and they took full advantage when Keith Senior slid over in the left, converted by Sinfield to tie things up at 12-12.

In a game littered with penalties and handling errors, it was Wigan who were to benefit from a discretion, with Pat Richards taking a penalty mid-way through the second half to edge the Warriors 14-12 in front.

The midfield battle continued, but then Harrison Hansen‘s brilliant run found a whole in the Leeds line and he did well to run around full-back Brent Webb and make it to the try-line, with Richards’ conversion giving Wigan a two score advantage.

And as Leeds pressed without success, Wigan sealed the game. A long pass out wide by Sean O’Loughlin was gathered by Darrell Goulding, and from the subsequent play-the-ball, an error in the Leeds defence enabled Martin Gleeson to dart down the blind side and seal the win.

Richards knocked over a late penalty to stretch the score to 26-12 and maintain Shaun Wane’s winning record, with the former Great Britain prop continuing to stand-in for head coach Michael Maguire, who is back in Australia following the death of his father.

It leaves Wigan six points clear of nearest rivals Warrington, who have just four games left.