Leeds Rhinos 8 Wigan Warriors 9

From spills, to thrills! Wigan have made a habit of conjuring incredible fightbacks this season. And they gave a dour game a brilliant finish, battling from 8-0 down after 72 minutes to snatch a dramatic victory.

Friday, 13th April 2018, 10:59 pm
Updated Friday, 13th April 2018, 11:06 pm
Warriors celebrate after Oliver Gildart's try

Oliver Gildart's try had given them hope and, after Tomkins added a sideline conversion and a later penalty to lock the scores, the full-back decided the outcome with a vital drop-goal.

The full-back - seemingly destined for Catalans next year - just can't stop making headlines.

It sealed the Warriors' first victory at Headingley since 2012, and ensured Leeds didn't leapfrop them in the Super League table.

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Games between these heavyweights rarely disappoint but this was an exception.

Until the final 10 minutes there were more sighs than gasps - from both sets of fans; whether this was a hangover from Easter or not, it was an underwhelming affair by the yardstick set by past encounters. Only when Wigan trailed 8-0 did they begin to trouble the Rhinos - and pull off a victory which seemed so unlikely for large spells.

Indeed, at half-time, Wigan's biggest positive was the 6-0 scoreline.

They frequently appeared flustered, they leaked penalties and spilled passes, and when they did get into good attacking position their options were poor. Case in point: kicking to the wing of England winger Ryan Hall, a ploy they persisted with too long.

Wane opted to start John Bateman at centre, and put Dan Sarginson on the bench, while Joel Tomkins and Taulima Tautai replaced Gabe Hamlin (dropped) and Ben Flower (concussion protocol) in the match squad.

The build-up had a touch of needle, too, with Leeds coach Brian McDermott questioning whether Wane had attempted to influence the officials with mid-week comments about the way the obstruction law is policed by video referees.

The fourth official was called on twice in the opening 15 minutes - though neither for obstruction - and on both occasions ruled out Leeds tries. Still, those referrals were a reflection of the better field positions Leeds enjoyed, and sandwiching those flashpoints, Sam Tomkins was called on to defuse a dangerous grubber.

Wigan have been slow starters in several games this season and Wane had called on a squeaky clean opening; he would have been disappointed with what he saw.

Their indiscipline frequently marched Leeds down the field, and they made spills - some from lazy passes - which would embarrass a junior team.

When a mix-up at dummy-half conceding cheap turnover - although replays suggested Sam Tomkins' wayward pass hit Liam Marshall's foot, and should not have been a knock-on - it led to Tom Briscoe's 22nd minute opening try. Kallum Watkins tagged on the conversion.

Despite their persistent indiscipline, Wigan did improve and may have drawn level had Sam Tomkins not spilled an attack with seven minutes until half-time. But they remained their own worst enemy, Sarginson spilling Thomas Leuluai's sloppy pass from the base of the scrum and, before the break, Tomkins dropping Joe Burgess' pass.

"That's why they're selling you," chanted the home fans, before aiming their jeers at a male streaker who ran onto the pitch before the break.

Wigan's cause wasn't helped when Powell was sinbinned early in the second-half for a suspected crusher tackle.

Leeds, who welcomed back Adam Cuthbertson from a broken hand injury, couldn't take advantage and when Powell returned the visitors briefly threatened - only for Taulima Tautai to concede a penalty in possession, for an incorrect play-the-ball.

O'Loughlin, withdrawn midway through the first-half, returned to the action and the travelling supporters hoped he could spark a similar fightback to the one he spearheaded in last week's 32-23 win at Catalans.

But indiscipline continued to undo any of their good work and when Sarginson was penalised for holding down, Watkins' boot opened up an eight-point lead with 15 minutes to go - forcing the visitors to force their hand.

And they rose to the challenge, a quick shift to the left, and a neat Farrell offload, ending with Gildart diving over in the corner. Tomkins majestically struck the conversion to cut the gap to just two points.

Suddenly, hope. From the restarting set, Ryan Sutton's thunderous break led to Gildart blazing away - only for Burgess, one of Wigan's better performers, to fumble the regather.

But when Brett Delaney was penalised for a high tackle on Powell, Tomkins coolly locked the scores with the penalty. And with three minutes on the clock, he struck a sweet drop-goal to poke his side ahead for the first time and send the travelling fans behind the posts wild.

Myler pushed a late one-pointer attempt wild as Wigan clung on to a victory which ensured their poor Headingley run would not stretch into an eighth game.


Leeds: Golding; Briscoe, Watkins, Handley, Hall; Moon, Myler; Delaney, Parcell, Singleton, Jones-Buchanan, Ward, Ablett. Subs: Cuthbertson, Mullally, Smith, Oledzki.

Wigan: S Tomkins; Marshall, Bateman, Gildart, Burgess; Williams, Powell; Clubb, Leuluai, Navarrete, Isa, Farrell, O'Loughlin. Subs: Sarginson, J Tomkins, Sutton, Tautai.

Referee: Ben Thaler

Half-time: 6-0

Attendance: 12,221