Leeds Rhinos 18-14 Wigan Warriors
Leeds against Wigan is usually a physical encounter and this encounter on Friday night at Headingley was no different. The Rhinos needed a response after their poor loss to top of the table Huddersfield at home last Friday, and they got one, although they were made to work very hard for it.
Danny McGuire has had a quiet start to the season by his standards but it was his moment of brilliance that broke the deadlock in this fierce contest. The scrum half dummied from the base of the breakdown before going blind, adding another dummy and finding Ryan Hall who sidestepped his way past the last line of Wigan defence.
Kevin Sinfield’s kicking display was much improved this week, making Wigan play their sets deep in their own half. This made Liam Farrell’s try even more of a shock, crossing to level the scores up in what was Wigan’s first notable attack of the game. Running a strong scissors line, the England man escaped the Leeds defence and the clutches of full-back Kallum Watkins to score. Things got even worse for Leeds when Jamie Jones Buchanan subsequently conceded a kickable penalty to give Wigan a 6-8 half-time lead.
Leeds started the second half strongly though, Ryan Hall competing for a high, hanging kick from Sinfield forcing the Wigan defender to spill the ball; an opportunity Joel Moon pounced upon to score. The Rhinos continued to cause the Wigan defence problems but often wasted chances to put themselves out of sight through handling errors. The Warriors looked like they were going to make Leeds pay when they found a two man overlap out wide only for outstanding defensive work from Kallum Watkins to shut the door; a match-winning intervention.
Shortly afterwards Leeds managed to stretch their lead to two scores when a dropped ball in attack allowed Jamie Jones Buchanan to build up a head of steam, powering through the Wigan defence and under the posts to score. However, this ten point margin was short-lived, with Wigan responding with a try of their own, taking full advantage of an overlap opportunity. With the scores at 18-14, a nervy conclusion to the game ensued but it was one Leeds dealt with well, holding on to record a win that will be crucial for their confidence.