Wigan 0-8 Leeds: Ash Handley try sees Rhinos progress in play-offs


Leeds' Ash Handley celebrates scoring his side's first try of the game during the Betfred Super League play-offs eliminator match at DW Stadium, Wigan

Ash Handley scored the only try of the game as Leeds secured a semi-final berth with an attritional 8-0 win over Wigan in the opening Super League play-off tie at the DW Stadium.

Wigan’s defeat brought Adrian Lam’s tenure as head coach to an abrupt end and took the Rhinos to within 80 minutes of an 11th Grand Final.

GUTTED: Adrian Lam bids farewell to Wigan

Richard Agar’s men now face a trip to either Catalans Dragons or St Helens next week and with it a chance to win the title from fifth place for the third time.

The result also signalled the end of the Wigan careers of Oliver Gildart and Jackson Hastings. They are preparing to head off to the NRL with Wests Tigers.

Wigan were bolstered by the return of a host of players rested for last week’s game against Catalans Dragons. Although they were full of energy, the lack of creativity that has been a problem all season came back to haunt them when it mattered the most.

Cagey affair

The first half was packed with aggression but little flair. Neither side able to break down some tight defence, and the last-tackle kicking game was poor from both teams.

Wigan second-rower John Bateman showed signs of rediscovering his old form. Leeds’ biggest threat came from exciting centre Harry Newman, who was also outstanding in defence.

John Bateman in action for Wigan

Wigan, who lost 14-0 to Leeds at the DW Stadium a month earlier, had conceded just four tries in their previous four matches and there was certainly nothing wrong with their defence.

Breakthrough at last

A rare handling error by Leeds full-back Richie Myler early in the second half gifted the home side a perfect attacking position but they could not capitalise and Myler quickly got the opportunity to make amends.

He got a hand to the ball from Kruise Leeming’s high kick and palmed it back for Ash Handley to break the stalemate on 49 minutes.

Rhyse Martin’s angled conversion made it 6-0 and a knock-on by Wigan winger Liam Marshall on his own 20-metre line gave Leeds the ideal opportunity to clinch the win.

Leeming’s drop-goal attempt went wide but, when Wigan prop Oliver Partington was pulled up for a ball steal on opposing front-rower Mickael Oledzki, Martin stepped up to kick the penalty that put his side two scores in front.

The Rhinos’ superb game management allowed them to comfortably see the game out as Wigan’s disappointing season finished on a tearful note in front of a crowd of just 7,396.

Leeds had loose forward Zane Tetevano back from suspension and Oledzki back from injury for this match. They could have more reinforcements back next week as they set their sights firmly on Old Trafford.