Wigan Warriors 28 Leeds Rhinos 18 - Challenge Cup Final

Harrison Hansen celebrates with the fans
Harrison Hansen celebrates with the fans

TWO tries from man-of-the-match Jeff Lima gave Wigan a 28-18 victory over Leeds in a cracking Challenge Cup final at Wembley.

Wigan looked odds-on for their first Challenge Cup win in nine years when they led 16-0 after half an hour, but gritty Leeds pulled it back to 16-14 by the hour mark.

However, the Warriors always managed to keep their noses just in front, and Thomas Leuluai’s late score secured a famous victory.

Wigan had showed their intent inside the opening 60 seconds, when Ryan Hoffman broke straight down the middle off the shoulder off Brett Finch.

Although the Leeds defence managed to keep them out early on, they couldn’t prevent Josh Charnley scoring the opening try on 10 minutes.

The young winger got on the end of an excellent passing move to touch down in the corner, Joel Tomkins with the final ball.

And it was even better for Wigan on 23 minutes when Brent Webb dropped a regulation high kick, which allowed Paul Prescott to put Jeff Lima over by the posts.

Pat Richards added the extras, before Wigan scored one of the best tries the ‘new’ Wembley has seen.

Sam Tomkins picked up the ball deep inside his own 20-metre area, and immediately veered across the field of play from left to right.

After evading four or five would-be tacklers, the Wigan full-back offloaded to his brother, Joel, still deep inside Wigan territory.

The second-row-cum-centre handed off Danny McGuire, before cutting inside full-back Brent Webb and racing over under the sticks to the delight of the cherry and white supporters in the stands.

It was all Warriors at this point, but Leeds showed their quality when they came up with two tries in the space of two minutes to reduce the interval arrears to six points.

First, a Kevin Sinfield-inspired saw Ryan Hall cross in the corner, before great hands left led to Ben Jones-Bishop taking Richards over the line with him to make it 16-10.

It really was game on 15 minutes after the restart when a Hoffman knock on gave Leeds the field position to see Carl Ablett stretch over the line, although Sinfield’s missed conversion left the gap at two points.

Lima’s second try on the hour mark, converted by Richards, gave Wigan breathing space at 22-14, but Hall’s second try in the corner - crucially too difficult for Sinfield to convert - ensured a nervy last eight minutes.

There was more drama when Leeds broke down the right and Jones-Bishop kicked behind Sam Tomkins, who won the race to the ball but could only fumble the ball into the in-goal area, where McGuire narrowly failed to apply downward pressure.

And Wigan secured their victory with their fifth try with three minutes remaining, when Leuluai reached over for a try awarded by video referee Steve Ganson on the ‘benefit of the doubt’ ruling.

Warriors: S Tomkins; Charnley, J Tomkins, Carmont, Richards; Deacon, Finch; Lima, Leuluai, Mossop, Hansen, Hoffman, O’Loughlin. Subs: McIlorum, Prescott, Farrell, Mossop.

Leeds: Webb; Jones-Bioshop, Ablett, Watkins, Hall; Sinfield, McGuire; Leuluai, Buderus, Peacock, Jones-Buchanan, Delaney, Hauraki. Subs: Burrow, Clarkson, Bailey, Kirke.

Referee: Phil Bentham

Attendance: 78,482