Wigan Warriors 20 Leeds Rhinos 16

Wigan Warriors' Sam Tomkins celebrates with Ben Flower after his team's victory during the Super League Magic Weekend at the Etihad Stadium
Wigan Warriors' Sam Tomkins celebrates with Ben Flower after his team's victory during the Super League Magic Weekend at the Etihad Stadium

SHAUN Wane’s men produced a gutsy display to stretch their winning streak to 11 matches at the Etihad Stadium - home of Manchester City FC.

The Super League pace-setters established a 20-12 lead at the break but fail to score in the second-half, as they clung on for their first victory against Leeds in their last four meetings.

Sam Tomkins bagged his 25th try in 11 matches - and his 30th for the season - to provide one of the flashpoints of an entertaining and exciting encounter which went all the way down to the wire.

Indeed, the quality of the contest ensured it was a fitting headliner to another enjoyable, and modestly successful, Magic Weekend.

Forwards crashed into one another with reckless enthusiasm, Sam Tomkins added his artistry, Ryan Hall and Josh Charnley duelled on the wing, and the close scoring exchanges kept fans gripped.

In a strong team outing, Charnley and Sean O’Loughlin were superb, while Iain Thornley produced arguably his finest performance in a Wigan shirt.

With Huddersfield winning earlier in the afternoon, Wigan knew they needed to win to retain their three point advantage at the top of the ladder.

They edged the opening half - played out at a frantic pace - to take a 20-12 lead.

And it was Tomkins - who else? - who got them out of the blocks with an eighth minute try. Solid approach work from Lee Mossop and Ben Flower, a crisp link-up in the halves - in which Sam Powell partnered the returning Matty Smith - and a strong charge from Thornley, who managed to offload in the tackle, provided the position for the reigning Man of Steel to dash over.

Pat Richards swung in a conversion to make it 6-0.

Wigan’s attack combined substance and style, laying on some slick attacks after the forwards had laid the foundations. But their first error gave Leeds an attacking chance, and from that, Kevin Sinfield closed the margin to four points after Mike McIlorum was penalised for a late challenge on the skipper.

And the champions briefly took the lead minutes later, Zak Hardaker piercing the defence and finding the supporting Sinfield, who had the strength to carry Liam Farrell over the line. He added the extras to swing the score 8-6 into their favour.

But when Ryan Bailey spilled the ball from the resulting set, the Warriors were gifted a chance to reclaim the lead in the 24th minute - which they snatched when Powell and Tomkins combined to find Richards in space.

The Australian added the extras - though his kick flew so high over the upright, some questioned whether his attempt was wide or not.

Both sides were relying on their opponents’ errors for opportunities, and that pattern continued until the break.

Hall, nickname the World’s Best Winger, spilled the ball in an aggressive challenge involving McIlorum and Epa Lauaki - met with back-slaps all round from their team-mates - and from a penalty two plays later, Richards’ boot put the Warriors 14-8 ahead.

Similarly, when a Wigan attack broke down through Darrell Goulding’s mis-directed pass, it presented Leeds the chance to counter - which they did with a fabulous try.

Rob Burrows inflicted the damage with an electric burst, and two passes later Kallum Watkins showed great power and poise to ground the ball in heavy congestion.

But Wigan had the final say, first when Richards booted a penalty - pantomime villain Bailey again the culprit - providing a four-point cushion.

And then with seconds remaining before the siren, Charnley capitalised on a mistake by Sinfield - whose clearing kick ricocheted into Matty Smith’s hands - to sweep over with a stunning try in the corner.

Powell was denied an early second-half try by the video referee, who rightly penalised Dom Crosby for obstruction in the build-up. And at the other end of the pitch some bone-jarring tackles - especially a try-saver by Thornley on Watkins - restricted the Rhinos’ chances.

A defensive lapse in the 53rd minute cost them, Joe Vickery dashing over unchecked in the right corner to cut the Wigan’s lead to 20-16.

Charnley - challenged by Shaun Wane to get the better of Hall - continued to provide many of his side’s better chances.

As tiredness crept into the players’ legs, so did mistakes. But that only fuelled the drama as the match entered the final stages with just four points separating the sides.

Danny McGuire crossed for what appeared a match-levelling try - only for the video referee to rule it out for an obstruction call earlier in the play.

Richards had running repairs on a head wound, which prevented him from kicking a 75th minute penalty - deputy Tomkins pushed a long-range attempt just wide. And in the frantic final few minutes, Wigan snuffed out Leeds’ chances with a tigerish defensive stint.

Leeds: Hardaker; Vickery, Watkins, Moon, Hall; McGuire, Sinfield; Leuluai, Burrow, Bailey, Jones-Buchanan, Clarkson, Sutcliffe. Subs: McShake, Kirke, Achurch, Singleton.

Wigan: S Tomkins; Charnley, Goulding, Thornley, Richards; Powell, Smith; Flower, McIlorum, Mossop, Hansen, Farrell, O’Loughlin. Subs: Lauaki, Tuson, L Tomkins, Crosby.

Referee: Richard Silverwood

Half-time: 12-20

Attendance: 31,249

Starman: Josh Charnley