Wigan still didn't fire on all cylinders but a
combination of classy tries and steely goal line defence led to another
victory that keeps them top of the table.
Having been denied earlier by double movement, Liam
Farrell finally claimed the 100th try of his Wigan career (258
appearances) with Sam Powell's pass sending through a gap. Zak
converting for 6-0 after 15 minutes.
Leeds though were not without chances and having
already had one try chalked for offside, they responded on 21 minutes
with a superb offload by Matt Prior getting Tom Briscoe in the left
corner. The quality of the offload must have mesmerised referee Robert
Hicks and the touch judge because they both missed that Briscoe's foot
was clearly in touch. No referral to video referee, so the try
stood but Leeds missed conversion left Wigan still 6-4 up.
It looked like that would stand to the break and if
anything it was Leeds who perhaps deserved to be slightly up but Wigan
found a classy finish to in fact stretch their lead just before half
time. Watch Bevan French's movement on this one. Him and Farrell combine
offloads on the right wing on the half way line. It spreads left to
Hastings who finds Marshall. He kicked inside for Bibby to hack on and
French has ran an arch to go from right to support that on the left and
14 seconds after his initial offload he's under the posts. Hardaker
converts for 12-4.
Into the second half, Wigan extended the lead further
with another great try. Super passing combined Hastings, French, Isa and
Hardaker flick a pass the parcel to get Dom Manfredi in the right
corner. Hardaker couldn't convert, so it was just 16-4.
Wigan then hit a similar period to last week.
Penalties conceded by Hardaker and Morgan Smithies invited Leeds on and
although for the majority of the match Wigan looked to be enjoying
defending, they eventually succumbed to a crash over by Liam Sutcliffe.
Rhyse Martin converted and a 16-10 it looked like we were in danger of a
huge sweat again.
Basically the sin binning to Luke Gale on 70 minutes
for a dangerous tackle perhaps settled the match in the end but Hardaker
failed with a second opportunity from a 40 metre penalty to ice the game
and similar to last week, Wigan had got into
position to drop goal for 17-10 but didn't go for it. Having said that
Harry Smith was unlucky with the bounce of the ball from his chip ahead.
Adam Cuthbertson's butter mitts on about 4 or 5 occasions were
proving expensive to the Rhinos momentum but it was a poor error
elsewhere that allowed Jake Bibby to go over for a gift try, with five
minutes to go, that finally sealed the result.
Hardaker converted, as he did for French completing a
brace in the final minute despite looking offside from, Hasting's kick.
That meant it was actually 28-10 in the end which I think was a fair
reflection of what this game should have been, although Wigan can still
get much sharper and dominant.
At the end of the day though, it was a performance
won with three 20 year olds and two 19 year olds who are getting
stronger every week. Bit of rawness perhaps holds us back from being
100% yet but it's no point peaking this early. Keep ticking over the
results and then it's time to step up for cup ties and when the stretch
to the season arrives. Every result takes the pressure off the season.
Catalan in a fortnight will be another big test. If we can back up
again, then the platform the rest of the season is well and truly laid.