Wigan Warriors 18 Leeds Rhinos 14

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FINISHES don’t come much more nervy and few matches this season will be as memorable.

Stellar tries, mean defence, tempers flaring and a dash of controversy - this was a Magic cocktail of rugby league worthy of its place at the top of the bill.

Shaun Wane

Shaun Wane

Anthony Gelling opened the scoring after quarter of an hour when he scooped the ball from the air and grounded it after getting it under control.

Referee Ben Thaler needed assistance from the video referee to give the four-pointer the nod but the score lifted Wigan after a period of defending their own line.

Four minutes later, Matty Smith nudged the champions further ahead with a penalty from close range when Carl Ablett and Brett Delaney held Michael McIlorum down in front of the Rhinos’ line and man fans will have felt with the momentum firmly in the Warriors’ favour, they could have got away with going for more.

Tempers exploded after 25 minutes when an all-encompassing brawl erupted following a late hit from Gil Dudson on Danny Maguire as Leeds built pressure on Wigan’s line.

McIlorum, John Bateman and Leeds’ Ryan Bailey found themselves sin binned and play had only been restarted for nine seconds when punches were thrown again on the first tackle.

Wigan could only hold out for four minutes, after which Ryan Hall touched down in the corner from an Ablett pass along the floor.

But Wigan recovered with the restoration of the sin-binned players and with three minutes to go before the interval, Blake Green dummied to shoot through the Leeds defence and score.

Green was again centre stage as Wigan turned the screw in the second half, firing a short pass to Dom Crosby to make a break and apply more pressure.

And Wigan’s control only tightened when McIlorum steamed through for a try under the posts after 55 minutes.

But never knowing when to cave in, Leeds made sure they were well and truly still in the fight by narrowing the gap on the hour mark.

Hardaker was allowed to run the width of the field in front of the Warriors’ line before finding Ablett who made an easy stroll over the whitewash.

For the first time since the opening exchanges, Leeds looked like threatening another Magic Weekend party for Wigan fans as they snatched back control.

The relentless attack came to fruition when Hall crept in for his second, making the most of a Joel Moon offload and set-up an epic finish.

Wigan Warriors: Matty Bowen, Joe Burgess, Dan Sarginson, Anthony Gelling, Dom Manfredi, Blake Green, Matty Smith, Scott Taylor, George Williams, Gil Dudson, John Bateman, Jack Hughes, Michael McIlorum

Replacements: Darrell Goulding, Dom Crosby, Sam Powell, Ryan Sutton

Leeds Rhinos: Zak Hardaker, Ben Jones-Bishop, Liam Sutcliffe, Joel Moon, Ryan Hall, Danny McGuire, Kevin Sinfield, Kylie Leuluai, Carl Ablett, Jamie Peacock, Mitch Achurch, Chris Clarkson, Brett Delaney

Replacements: Stevie Ward, Ryan Bailey, Ian Kirke, Brad Singleton

Wigan Warriors:

Tries: Gelling, Green, McIlorum

Goals:Smith 3

Leeds Rhinos:

Tries: Hall 2, Ablett

Goals: Sinfield

Half-time: 12-4

Attendance: 36,339