Wigan put a lacklustre first-half behind them to salvage an unlikely draw at Leeds.
The Warriors – 22-4 down at one stage – mounted the comeback after an opportunistic try from Sam Tomkins suggested that the Rhinos were running on empty following a high-tempo first-half performance.
Thomas Leuluai sidestepped his way through the Leeds defensive line and fed Harrison Hansen – only for a desperate lunging tackle from Rob Burrow to dislodge the ball and extinguish the scoring opportunity for Wigan. Just moments later, Leuluai made a similar break and offloaded to Joel Tomkins who fended off Burrow to open the scoring.
Wigan’s third clean line break inside the opening quarter came from hooker Mike McIlorum and his run put him one-on-one with the Rhinos full-back, but he failed to find a support runner and the chance was gone.
Leeds hit back after being gifted possession from a loose George Carmont offload and Danny Buderus slipped the ball to Jamie Jones-Buchanan – who was able to hold off despairing Wigan challenges – to score near the posts. Kevin Sinfield converted to put the home side in front after 19 minutes.
Leeds were guilty of forcing the issue – passing forward on three occasions when in scoring situations. The home side also had two efforts disallowed by the video referee; an indication of their dominance in the first-half.
The Rhinos quickly extended their lead via Buderus. Ryan Hall was put into space down the left flank and his kick ahead was pounced on by the hooker. After going in front, Leeds’ defensive line pressed quickly, forcing Wigan into a number of errors. And as the half progressed, the Warriors failed to address the urgency of the home side.
Wigan brought their slack first-half performance back out with them after the interval. A careless knock on from Sean O’Loughlin provided the Rhinos with an attacking platform that was further enhanced by a penalty for offside. Sinfield succeeded with the penalty attempt at goal to stretch the lead to 14-4. Sinfield then added another two points after Wigan were caught not square at the marker position.
Buderus and Sinfield controlled the game smartly; the hooker orchestrating proceedings from dummy-half and Sinfield’s kicking game caused Wigan problems throughout – particularly the high bomb.
Brent Webb further extended the lead with a try on 65 minutes after Leeds exploited an overlap out wide.
Liam Farrell’s break had given the visitors good field position and Sam Tomkins saw space in behind the defensive line. The full-back chipped ahead, and re-gathered, to give Wigan just a glimmer of hope.
Darrell Goulding then squeezed in at the corner to cut Leeds’ advantage but Tomkins’ missed conversion meant that Wigan had to score twice with just seven minutes remaining.
Paul Prescott poached a try from close-range and enterprising play from the restart nearly saw Wigan snatch a late victory, but a penalty conceded by a scrambling Leeds defence allowed Tomkins to equalise at the death.
Leeds: Webb, Hall, Senior, Ablett, Watkins, Burrow, Sinfield, Leuluai, Buderus, Bailey, Jones-Buchanan, Pitts, Hauraki Subs: McShane, Cross, Kirke, Clarkson
Tries: Jones-Buchanan 18, Buderus 21, Webb 64
Goals: Sinfield 18, 21, 45, 50, 64
Wigan: S Tomkins, Goulding, J Tomkins, Carmont, Roberts, O’Loughlin, Leuluai, Coley, McIlorum, Prescott, Hoffman, Hansen, Farrell Subs: Finch, Lima, Mossop, Tuson
Tries: J Tomkins 11, S Tomkins 69, Goulding 73, Prescott 78
Goals: S Tomkins 69, 78, 80
Referee: Richard Silverwood