Wigan Warriors V Leeds Rhinos preview: Key players, previous meetings and where to watch

Wigan Warriors welcome Leeds Rhinos to the DW Stadium on Friday evening (K.O. 8pm).
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Matty Peet’s side head into this game on the back of last week’s 14-10 defeat to Hull FC at the MKM Stadium.

A positive from the loss was a brace for Iain Thornley on his return to first team action.

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Here is some of the key information ahead of this week’s game:

Wigan Warriors take on Leeds Rhinos at the DW StadiumWigan Warriors take on Leeds Rhinos at the DW Stadium
Wigan Warriors take on Leeds Rhinos at the DW Stadium

The opposition

Leeds currently sit eighth in the Super League, with five wins from their opening 11 games.

Last year’s Grand Finalists have been unable to consistently replicate the form they showed at the backend of last season.

They have lost in their two previous outings heading into this match.

Rohan SmithRohan Smith
Rohan Smith
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The Leopards beat them 20-6 at Leigh Sports Village, before they were defeated 22-12 by Salford Red Devils at Headingley last week.

This Friday’s game will be the first of two consecutive games between the Rhinos and Wigan, with a Challenge Cup tie lined-up for next Saturday.

The coach

Rohan Smith became Leeds head coach last April, taking over from Richard Agar.

His previous teams include Tonga, Bradford Bulls and North Devils, who compete in the Queensland coach.

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He has also held coaching roles in the NRL with Penrith Panthers and Gold Coast Titans.

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Ethan Havard looks ahead to Friday's game against Leeds Rhinos at the DW Stadium

Key men

Ash Handley has four tries under his belt for Leeds this season, and also impressed in the recent mid-season international for England, where he scored a hat-trick for Shaun Wane’s side.

Meanwhile, Rhyse Martin is the Rhinos’ top scorer with five, as well as successfully kicking 24 goals.

Cameron Smith has also been a key player for the Smith’s side.

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The 24-year-old is currently top of the tackle charts in Super League with 473.

Previous meetings

Leeds have come out on top in the last two games between the clubs.

They came out on top in the play-off semi-final clash at the DW Stadium back in September, as James Bentley went over for a brace in a 8-20 win.

Prior to that, the Rhinos also claimed two points in last year’s meeting at Headingley, with Wigan losing 42-12.

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The Warriors did win last year’s regular season game at the DW Stadium, with Jai Field crossing for a hat-trick in a 34-12 victory.

Form guide

Wigan Warriors- L W W W W

Leeds Rhinos- L L W W L

Super League history

Wigan have won 44 of the Super League meetings between the two clubs.

This includes their victory in the 1998 Grand Final at Old Trafford.

Meanwhile, Leeds have overcome the Warriors on 33 occasions.

One of their wins also came in a Grand Final (2015).

The two sides have also drawn on four occasions.

Where to watch

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The game is being broadcast live on Sky Sports Arena with coverage starting from 7.30pm.

Elsewhere this weekend

Wigan Warriors’ reserves side also take on Leeds Rhinos this weekend.

The two sides go head-to-head on Friday night at Robin Park Arena ahead of the first team fixture (K.O. 5.30pm).

John Winder’s side are unbeaten so far this season, with four wins and one draw, which leaves them second in the table.

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Last time out they produced a 36-12 victory over Wakefield Trinity.

On Sunday afternoon, Wigan Warriors Women are also in action.

Kris Ratcliffe’s side take on Leigh Leopards, Castleford Tigers and London Broncos as part of a nines tournament at Warrington’s Victoria Park.

The top teams from each of the five groups, and one wildcard, will progress to the finals day at the AJ Bell Stadium on June 24.

Last time out, the Warriors were in Challenge Cup action.

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They made it two wins out of two, with a 12-10 victory over Featherstone Rovers at the Millennium Stadium.

First half tries from Anna Davies and Holly Speakman were enough for Wigan to claim the victory.

Final thoughts

It will be important for Wigan to bounce back from last week’s defeat.

Their performance in the first half against Hull FC was well below their usual standards.

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The Black and Whites won the energy battle and looked more determined during the opening 40 minutes.

It’s hard to put your finger on one particular reason why they were so off the boil, but perhaps it could be put down to their growing injury list catching up with them.

It’s been a major blow to lose Mike Cooper, Brad Singleton and Kaide Ellis from their pack in the last month.

Overall, they have coped well, but sometimes they will miss their experience.

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After the break things did improve against Hull, but their execution still let them down.

Ultimately, it was just a blip, and positives can be taken by how they picked themselves up in the second half.

A long turnaround between games should hopefully prove to be a positive for the Warriors, as it would’ve allowed some of the recent England representatives to rest.

They also have bodies returning, with Cade Cust back in the 21-man squad, while Ryan Hampshire is edging closer to his return to the first team after being 18th man last time out.

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Another big boost for Peet’s side will be having Willie Isa back for selection following his two-match penalty notice.

As for Leeds, they’ve not lived up to the expectation of some so far this year, but are always a dangerous team to contend with, who will hit a strong run of form at some point this season.