Leeds Rhinos 6 Wigan Warriors 19: Five things we learned
Five talking points from Wigan's 19-6 win at Leeds on Thursday night...
1. And to think, Wigan conceded more tries in the first half-hour against Leigh have they have done in all the games since!
Last week's shutout of York in the Challenge Cup has been sandwiched by two Super League games in which the Warriors have leaked just a solitary try.
The energy, grit and organisation of their defence, particularly close to their own line, has underpinned their unbeaten start to the year and bodes well for a bright season, as key personnel return and combination in attack improve.
2. Liam Farrell again started at centre and again showed his class, scoring two of their four tries.
His first was an impressive solo effort and the second was engineered by Jackson Hastings, who again caught the eye.
Scratch the surface and there were other notable contributions from the tireless Morgan Smithies - playing in the second-row - as well as Joe Shorrocks, who played longer minutes than usual and proved a handful. And if we're discussing key players...
3. Zak Hardaker may have missed three goals but that was the only blemish on his report card - he was outstanding once again in the full-back berth.
And he showed quick-thinking, and quick feet, to score a virtuoso try in the first-half, spotting the full-back was in the defensive line, kicking the ball on and regathering to ground.
A lot of the talk before, during and after the match centred on whether Hardaker will revert back to centre when Bevan French comes into the side next week.
Alternatively, Lam may decide to take 18-year-old Umyla Hanley out of the firing line and put French on the wing. And the possible return of Dom Manfredi - and the option of switching Jake Bibby from the wing to the centres - is another factor for Lam to weigh up.
4. A lot of focus was inevitably on Kyle Eastmond's return to Super League after he was given the nod to make his Leeds debut.
The 31-year-old, who had spent the last decade in rugby union, started at halfback in a depleted Rhinos side.
Coach Richard Agar had said he'd need time to readjust and in the first-half, he was largely anonymous. But early in the second-half he started to come into the game, launching some sharp passes and having more of an influence on a depleted Leeds side.
5. Wigan gave a debut of their own - to their alternate purple kit.
It's a stylish design though in hindsight - given Leeds play in blue - it would have been easier on the eye if the visiting side had stuck to their cherry home kit on this occasion!
Wigan, meanwhile, have a week to prepare for their next game, at home to Castleford, which should see the return of Bevan French.
The Australian had been in the provisional squad for this Leeds match but didn't make the 17 after a knock in training.
Next Thursday's match kicks-off at 6pm and isn't being televised, though season ticket holders will be able to watch on the OurLeague app and website. Fans without a season ticket will not be able to pay to watch it.