SHAUN Wane watched his Wigan claim a frantic 26-24 victory over Leeds last night – and challenged his players to maintain that level until the end of the year.
Wigan held a six-point lead going into the final few minutes when Rob Burrow’s late try, converted by Kevin Sinfield, locked the scores.
But in the dying seconds, Rhinos were penalised for obstruction and Matty Smith kept his composure to nail the winning penalty goal.
“I honestly thought we deserved to win,” said Wane.
“Credit to Leeds, when they go into offload mode, they are fantastic – and they are the best team in the competition.
“But we were much-improved, we bombed a couple of tries, but overall I’m really happy with the win.
“That was us. We play with passion – and we lacked it last week against Warrington.
“A lot of people have enjoyed seeing us struggling a bit, so it was nice to get the win.
“But this win will only be good if we win our next two games before the Super 8s
“This has been a frustrating year, without any consistency in our play, and I want to see that level of performance each week.”
Wigan led 18-12 at half-time courtesy of tries from Liam Farrell, Sean O’Loughlin and Matty Bowen.
Recalled Josh Charnley swelled their lead after the break before Leeds battled back to create a pulsating finish.
The win lifts Wigan to second, ahead of St Helens’ match against Huddersfield tonight, with two games to go before the Super-8s begin - Wigan face Widnes (h) and Hull FC (a).
Home advantage of the seven, Super 8s fixtures generally favour the teams which finish higher up the ladder.
England footballer Joey Barton was in Warriors’ dressing room before and after the game, shadowing the coaching staff.
“He was blown away by the level of detail we go into,” said Wane.
“He is a big rugby league fan. Every player who went to him, he knew more about them than they did about him.
“He was in before and after, he’s spending time with the coaches, and I showed him some things we did.
“He’s very clued up on rugby league.”
Centre Dan Sarginson pulled his hamstring, and will be assessed today.
Leeds coach Brian McDermott had no complaints over the two major refereeing calls which went against his side – Danny McGuire had calls for a try ruled out for obstruction, while Leeds were penalised for the same offence late on.
“I thought it was a try,” admitted McDermott.
“Joel Tomkins travelled three yards to engage the lead runner.
“The build-up was sensational and had that been scored, I’d have retired, it would have been the best try ever.
“But that’s not why we lost.
“I’ve no complaints with the loss. I thought Wigan were better than us over the course of the game.
“Defensively, we didn’t have enough fight about us.”