Wigan progress to the next stage of the Super League play offs with a very
satisfying 41-18 victory over Leeds Rhinos.
The chance of achieving the
first modern-day double it still very much alive but there was an heavy price to
pay as Julian O'Neill, Terry Newton and Dave Hodgson all picked up injuries.
This win was masterminded by the creative genius of Adrian Lam, Craig Smith's
powerful running at prop and two well taken tries by captain Andy Farrell, who
also kicked six goals from seven attempts.
The Warriors simply punished careless Leeds' dreadful errors to establish a
19-0 half time lead. The Rhinos did have a mini fightback but it was too little,
too late, the damage had already been done.
Andy Farrell opening the scoring on eleven minutes from a penalty, Leeds'
being punished for holding down at the play the ball. From the resulting kick
off, Kevin Sinfield's restart went out on the full. Criminal! Great Britain
standard players should not be making mistakes like that and moments later he
was duly punished.
Kris Radlinski took an offload from Kiwi Craig Smith and river danced through
three or four pathetic tackle attempts from Leeds. It was a great try, Rads at
his very best. Farrell converted and Wigan led 8-0 after 12 minutes.
Next Wigan try all came about from a timely interception from Adrian Lam. He
took Karl Pratt's intended pass to Keith Senior and moments later Terry Newton
worked the blind side to allow Shaun Briscoe to score a try in the corner. Young
Briscoe, who is looking like a great talent, did fantastic to avoid going into
touch but again it was poor Rhinos defence as Mark Calderwood was caught
napping. Farrell missed the goal. 12-0 Wigan after 19 minutes.
Following the restart, Leeds' again mess about in the play the ball area and
this time Russell Smith has had enough. Chev Walker is sent to the bin after
being deemed guilty of inteference as David Hodgson lost the ball.
Wigan just kept doing what they had done before. They punished the mistake by
scoring a try on 22 minutes. Farrell grabbed the first of his two tries
following a great jinking step to beat a flat-footed Matt Adamson. He added the
extras before Lam supplemented the scoring with a drop goal as Wigan led 19-0 at
half time. Just before then however, Dave Furner was also binned for
In the second half Wigan came out with the right tactics. Great touchfinders
from Lam kept the Rhinos penned inside their own half for long periods.
Farrell extended the Warriors lead to 21-0 early in the second half, then on
53 minutes Danny Tickle goes over the line. But the lad nicknamed "Tess" is
denied by the video referee who deemed that he did not ground the ball.
You felt at the point if Wigan had scored it would be all over for Leeds but
the no try decision lifted the Rhinos who went over for their first try just
three minutes later. A dubious high tackle by Gary Connolly gave Leeds six
tackles on the Wigan line and the pressure told as loose forward Kevin Sinfield
powered over from close range. Ben Walker converted and Leeds had a chance at
But soon after the game breaker as Wigan punished yet another Leeds mistake,
which allowed Farrell to score his second try of the game. He took a great pass
from Mick Cassidy to score almost underneath the sticks. Simple conversion
restored the 15 point lead at 27-6.
To their credit the Rhinos did not give up. On 64 minutes Matt Adamson scored
after a Tonie Carroll pass dropped into his arms via a deflection of a Wigan
defender. He went over in the corner and Ben Walker beautifully converted from
the sideline. 27-12 Wigan with 16 minutes to go.
Momentum was building for Leeds and they were soon pressing the Wigan line
again following two penatlies. Wigan defended well and Danny Sculthorpe was in
no mood to mess around. He took the safe option and punched a last tackle kick
away for a drop out.
Time was running out for the Rhinos, they had to score but on 69 minutes,
Adamson knocked on and then Leeds stole the ball in a two man tackle gifting
Farrell another two points from the boot.
At that point with a 29-12 scoreline it was surely all over with just five
minutes on the clock but Leeds did not give in. Ryan Sheridan scored but it was
little more than a consolation in the end.
In fact Wigan still had time to score two more tries themselves. First Dave
Furner, against the club he will be playing for next season, then Martin
Aspinwall put the cherry on top of the cake with the last score.
Furner was allowed to kick the conversions for the last two tries and he did
so with ease. It was a great parting gesture by Andy Farrell for Furner who was
playing his last ever game at the JJB.
It was a great victory but we are handed three more injury blows from this
Dave Hodgson was taken to hospital with a dislocated shoulder and has already
been ruled out of next Friday's trip to the losers of tomorrow's qualifying
semi-final between St Helens and Bradford.
Stand-off Julian O'Neill (knee) and hooker Terry Newton (dislocated elbow)
are also battling to be fit after joining Wigan's never-ending casualty
On a bright note, Brian Carney could be back for next week.
Coach Stuart Raper said: "We're struggling, we'll have to tape these blokes
together, nail them together if we have to.
"Whatever we have to do, we'll get 17 guys on the pitch and they'll put their
bodies on the line again. Our physio is going to work his butt off this
About the match he added: "I don't think there was a stand-out performer,"
said Raper. "As a team, we played very well and everyone's contribution was
At the end of the day there are smiles on all the players faces as Wigan move
on. It doesn't get any easier, a trip to St Helens or Bradford awaits. Who do we
want to play? Who cares, bring them on I say!