SLXIV/22:: Wigan 28-10 Leeds

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Wigan Warriors produced a stunning performance to rally from 10-0 down and continue their rise up the engage Super League, as coach, Brian Noble, again demonstrating his ability to time a playoff run.

Sam Tomkins (Wigan Warriors)

Sam Tomkins (Wigan Warriors)

The Warriors never looked back after Samoan second-rower, Harrison Hansen, pounced to edge them into the lead for the first time on 42 minutes. And when Joel Tomkins crossed to extended that lead, with Richards’ third goal making it 18-10, they looked unassailable, with the 20,295 strong crowd roaring them on.

Although there was a touch of fortune about Hansen’s touchdown it was no more than Wigan deserved as their forwards matched the Leeds six in a real sabre-rattling tussle, leaving halfbacks Sam Tomkins and Thomas Leuluai to impress.

“Wigan were very, very good,” admitted McClennan. “Once they built some momentum up in the second half they never let go.

And Wigan reserved the best football of the night for the finale a blistering try from Sam Tomkins. It was keyed by Richards, breaking through the Rhinos defence sixty metres out before linking with Leuluai who sent Tomkins sprinting over by the left post. Richard’s fourth conversion and two late penalties sealed an emphatic statement victory.

But it had all started so differently with the Rhinos charging at the Wigan line and only desperate defence holding them at bay.

Amos Robert’s fourth minute try-saving chase back to halt Danny McGuires 40 metre break 5 metres short, was bettered only by his move from the play the ball that dispossessed Leeds and helped Wigan stem an inexorable tide of Rhinos blue.

But Wigan’s line was eventually breached as the first quarter ticked away and the Rhino surge showed no signs of abating. Danny Buderus’s thundering run ended with him standing in the tackle of Cameron Phelps on the 20 and imperiously handing on to the supporting Rob Burrow who sent McGuire scampering over. Sinfield converted.

Scott Donald quickly extended the lead to 10-0, crashing over on the right following Ratu’s flick pass, despite the attentions of RIchards and Harrison Hansen. And with Wigan failing to cash-in on their own attacks it looked ominous for the home side.

However, the Warriors were sparked into action as half time neared. The alert Phelps darting from dummy half and turning a reverse pass inside to send George Carmont over. Richards goaled to make it 10-6 to Leeds at the break.

Wigan called-up Mike Flanagan (son of GB and Oldham favourite, Terry) in place of injured second rower forward and stand-in skipper, Phil Bailey, who joined the injured Sean O’Loughlin, Michael McIlorum, Tim Smith and banned Gareth Hock on the sidelines.

Leeds, meanwhile, welcomed back their skipper, Kevin Sinfield, and Scott Donald. Full-back Brent Webb will face a fitness test after suffering a knock in last weekend’s win over Hull KR.

TEAMS:

Warriors:

21 Phelps, 2 Roberts, 22 Gleeson, 4 Carmont, 5 Richards, 25 S Tomkins, 7 Leuluai, 15 Coley, 9 Riddell, 19 Prescott, 14 J Tomkins, 16 Hansen, 26 Flanagan Subs: 8 Fielden, 10 Paleaaesina, 3 Gouldng, 24 Mossop

Tries: Caremont (36), Hansen (42), J Tomkins (49), S Tomkins (71)
Goals: Richards 6/7

Rhinos:

3 Smith, 2 Donald, 29 Ratu, 4 Senior, 5 Hall, 6 McGuire, 7 Burrow, 8 Leuluai, 9 Buderus, 10 Peacock, 11 Jones-Buchanon, 18 Ablett, 13 Sinfield Subs: 19 Burgess, 14 Diskin, 12 Lauititi, 21 Worrall

Tries: McGuire (18), Donald (21).
Goals: Sinfield 1/2

Match summary

18 Danny McGuire try, Kevin Sinfield goal 0-6
21 Scott Donald try 0-10
36 George Carmont try, Pat Richards goal 6-10
HALF TIME

42 Harrison Hansen try, Pat Richards goal 12-10
49 Joel Tomkins try, Pat Richards goal 18-10
71 Sam Tomkins try, Pat Richards goal 24-10
75 Pat Richards goal 5/5 26-10
77 Pat Richards goal 6/6 28-10
79 Pat Richards missed goal 6/7
FULLTIME

Referee: P Bentham

Attendance: 20,295

Men of the match

Warriors: Sam Tomkins

Rhinos:

Post-match Reaction

Brian Noble:

Noble was pragmatic about the performance, saying: “I thought the second half was up there (with the best of our performances), because of the crowd and the emotion. But they (Leeds) punched holes in us during that first half. We took on board a lot of information at half time and we respected the ball a lot better, which made all the difference in the end.

“Leeds were a bit smarter than us in that first half and we did well to respond to that. We knew we had to go toe to toe to them defensively and we did that in the second half.

On Sam Tomkins: “He’s very exciting and it’s great to see players like that coming through but he’s a work in progress yet”.

Brian McClennan

“Wigan were very, very good,” admitted McClennan. “Once they built some momentum up in the second half they never let go.

“But our execution was down a bit, even in that first quarter. Then we started to get fatigued and to fall of tackles.

“They were the better team on the night”.

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