JOEL Moon’s lunge for the line on the hour-mark condemned Wigan Warriors to their third straight home defeat and sent Shaun Wane’s men to league leaders Huddersfield in the first round of the play-offs.
In beating Wigan, the champions will travel the opposite way over the Pennines to face Warrington Wolves at the Halliwell Jones Stadium, beginning their title defence from two places higher than they did 12 months ago.
The deadlock finally broke against the run of play when Ben Jones Bishop picked-off a Blake Green pass in the 22nd minute.
Intended for Pat Richards, the ball came out of Green’s hands like a bullet but the young winger was perfectly placed to snatch the goods and dash almost the full length of the field to score despite the close attention of Sam Tomkins.
But the Warriors were determined to ensure the game lived up to its superhero billing, with Green slipping a nifty pass to Iain Thornley on the half-hour to send the centre flying towards the line, scattering defenders across the deck until he was eventually stopped with the help of the posts.
Seven minutes later, playing with the Superman ‘S’ on his chest, the Warriors very own superhero crossed the line just before half-time, finishing off a Green break.
Richards then converted his own try to put Wigan in front at half-time.
But during the second half, there were few hero antics from the home side as the Rhinos unleashed their own brand of kryptonite on Wigan.
Carl Ablett snuck over in front of the Leeds fans two minutes after the restart and unlike the first half, there was no invulnerability or superhuman strength from Wigan as Moon’s try on the hour pushed Wigan further down the league ladder.
Liam Farrell was on hand to cause enough doubt to force referee Richard Silverwood to consult the video referee but the replay showed the ball was grounded well before Moon was bundled into touch.
To add a further sting to the evening for Wigan, Kallum Watkins won the race to a kick to score on the opposite side and confirm their second league win over the Challenge Cup holders this term.
Wigan Warriors: Sam Tomkins; Josh Charnley, Darrell Goulding, Iain Thornley, Pat Richards; Blake Green, Matty Smith; Lee Mossop, Michael McIlorum, Andy Powell, Harrison Hansen, Liam Farrell; Ben Flower
Replacements: Chris Tuson, Logan Tomkins, Dom Crosby, Scott Taylor
Leeds Rhinos: Zak Hardaker; Ben Jones-Bishop, Kallum Watkins, Joel Moon, Ryan Hall; Danny McGuire, Kevin Sinfield; Kylie Leuluai, Rob Burrow, Jamie Peacock, Jamie Jones-Buchanan, Carl Ablett; Brad Singleton
Replacements: Brett Delaney, Mitch Achurch, Ian Kirke, Liam Sutcliffe:
Referee: Richard Silverwood
Tries: Jones-Bishop, Ablett, Moon, Watkins
Goals: Sinfield 2