Wigan Warriors 46 Leeds Rhinos 8

Wigan enjoyed a sweet return home as Liam Marshall chalked up a hat-trick in an impressive win which piled on the misery for the defending champions.

Thursday, 28th June 2018, 11:02 pm
Updated Wednesday, 4th July 2018, 6:19 pm
Wigan Warriors Josh Woods goes past Leeds Rhinos Jack Walker to score a try
Wigan Warriors Josh Woods goes past Leeds Rhinos Jack Walker to score a try

This was the first time Shaun Wane's side had won by more than one score since the Magic Weekend - a fixture which began a seven-week block of matches on the road.

England's World Cup match with Belgium inevitably took a lot of the attention away from this showdown, but there was much to enjoy about the Warriors' performance.

They produced a quick-tempo, high-energy and inventive display to take a 22-4 lead into half-time - and tightened their grip after the break with four further tries.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

During that first stanza, Joe Greenwood had made a strong debut and they had registered three stylish tries - two by Marshall.

That said, they were helped by a lacklustre Leeds, who took a surprise lead but rapidly fell off the pace. They looked every bit a team struggling for confidence.

Warriors, by contrast, were well-balanced and well-oiled.

Playing on a new, lush, hybrid pitch, they showed no signs of any nervousness from their recent sticky spell.

Josh Woods pulled the strings on the left-channel and a team display in which no-one dipped below 7/10, Sam Tomkins, John Bateman and both wingers, Tom Davies and Marshall, often caught the eye.

Given the scoreline and measuring it against pre-match hopes and expectations, it would be a harsh judge to want more - but Wane will probably concede there was still areas to improve, spells which fell flat. Yet if this wasn't Wigan galloping, they were certainly back on the proverbial horse.

As well as Greenwood's appearance from the bench, the interesting part to Wigan's line-up was the return of Sean O'Loughlin and Bateman following England duty in America last Saturday.

Their national team-mate Ryan Hall figured for Leeds, who had lost their last six matches to tumble into danger of a bottom-four finish.

The visitors made a bright start, with Brett Ferres profiting from a breakdown in communications between Tomkins and Bateman - who collided trying to defuse a kick - to take a 4-0 lead.

But Wigan began to find their groove and found some joy giving the ball some width to their left side, where Oliver Gildart blazed away for one chance which was shut down, before Marshall spectacularly dived over for a 14th-minute try.

Tomkins masterfully hit the conversion to poke them 6-4 ahead - and they never relinquished the lead from that point.

Marshall struck again two minutes later, finishing a well-worked move in which Woods held up the defence with nice sleight of hand and Gildart released with the winger with a slick pass.

The touchdown was Marshall's 14th in the Super League charts, nudging him up to third behind Saints duo Ben Barba (20) and Mark Percival (16).

Tomkins added a conversion and two penalties to keep the scoreboard ticking over and taking him past the 1,000 point milestone in professional rugby league.

Wigan - playing in a special poppy-themed shirt to honour Armed Forces Day - didn't ease up.

Shaun Wane challenged Woods to show what he could do at this level, and he rose to it, displaying good footwork and determination to reach the line after the half-hour mark.

Leeds continued to cough up possession but Wigan couldn't add any more points until the 50th-minute mark, a spell in which Luke Briscoe had a try early in the second-half disallowed by the video referee.

Liam Farrell, back from a short lay-off with an ankle injury, sliced through the defence on a powerful, arcing run and with Tomkins again perfect with the book, it put the hosts 28-4 ahead.

The result secured, the game glided into the final quarter. Romain Navarrete added some needle on his return from the bench and one of his surging charges provided the position for Thomas Leuluai to spin over for a try. Tomkins couldn't convert and, when Joel Moon squeezed over moments later, it restored the 24-margin heading into the last 10 minutes.

Wigan had to play out that spell with 12-men after Navarrete was sin-binned for a crusher tackle, but it didn't impact on their display as Tony Clubb picked off a loose ball and sent Davies sweeping over.

And Marshall had the final try, ducking and zipping over following Morgan Escare's break, with Tomkins converting to finish with nine goals.