WIGAN are up to second in the table after a comprehensive 21-6 victory over Leeds.
It was billed as the big one during the build up and a Super League 2014 record crowd of 20,265 packed in to the DW Stadium to witness it.
Perhaps not a game for the neutral with Leeds rarely looking in the contest, but for Wigan it was job done as they leapfrog Warrington and Castleford, for 48 hours at least depending on the Tigers’ result on Sunday.
The first half was pretty simple with the Warriors looking by far the hungrier.
After a number of sets, they gained great field position to set themselves up for their first try of the evening.
A crafty grubber kick from Blake Green found Joe Burgess, returning after two months on the sidelines, in the corner who touched down with 13 minutes gone.
The Warriors had to wait 10 minutes before doubling their lead, making it 12-0, when Leeds’ Zak Hardaker offloaded a sloppy pass that fell sweetly into the path of Matty Smith.
The half-back scooped up the ball and ran through the empty 25-yards in front of him before coolly converting from in front of the sticks.
Leeds didn’t seem to get out of second gear for the rest of the half, rarely threatening Wigan’s line and, on the stroke of half-time, Smith slotted over a penalty to send Shaun Wane’s side in 14-0 up.
As they’ve proved year after year though, you can never write the Rhinos off and they came out charging in the second half, getting themselves back into the contest just five minutes in.
Some sloppy hands from both sides saw the ball bobble around in Wigan’s half for a few seconds before Leeds finally got it under control and Liam Sutcliffe was sent over in the corner.
Referee Ben Thaler wasn’t convinced and went to the screen, which showed possible knock ons from both sides, but video ref Richard Silverwood was satisfied enough to give the try. Kevin Sinfield added the extras to reduce the deficit to eight points.
The game started to heat up with a number of high shots and fierce blows before Wigan thought they had extended their lead.
Dan Sarginson crossed with 17 left on the clock, only for the video ref to correctly intervene and rule no try when the big screen showed he had dropped the ball as he tried to place it down.
There were no such problems when Wigan finally put the game to bed five minutes later.
After mounting pressure inside the Leeds 20, they finally broke through when a smart ball from Sean O’Loughlin found Ben Flower who barged over, Smith’s conversion making it 20-6.
The Wigan No.7 coolly added a drop-goal as the clock ticked down to send Wane’s men to second place.
Wigan: Bowen; Charnley, Hughes, Sarginson, Burgess; Green, Smith; Flower, McIlorum, Crosby, Tomkins, Farrell, O’Loughlin. Subs: Powell, Pettybourne, Clubb, Bateman.
Leeds: Hardaker; Briscoe, Watkins, Keinhorst, Hall; Sinfield, Sutcliffe; Bailey, Aiton, Peacock, Delaney, Ablett, Jones-Buchanan. Subs: Leuluai, Ward, Achurch, Singleton.