Leeds Rhinos 26-14 Wigan Warriors – Match Report

Leeds managed to close the gap on league leaders Saints with a victory over a sluggish Wigan side.

The win means Leeds are now back within two points of Kieran Cunningham’s men as for Wigan there slow start to the season continues.

Cuthbertson was pivotal for Leeds
Cuthbertson was pivotal for Leeds

It was a very similar game to the Saints versus Warrington game with the home side coming out on top but never really killing the game off. Wigan similarly to Warrington last night they didn’t play overly well but managed to keep themselves in the game.

Captain Danny McGuire said: “Wigan are a good, strong side. It is always difficult every time we play against Wigan.”

Leeds dominated the game for the most, however only went into the break two points in front. Adam Cuthbertson, Ash Handley and Brad Singleton scored the Rhinos three tries in eight minutes in this patch. The home side only crossed twice in the second half through Liam Sutcliffe and Rob Burrow.

Leeds Coach Brian McDermott said: “It was very up and down we’re still looking for some consistency but we’ve won a tough scrappy game and it’s always nice to win scrappy.”

Matty Smith’s early try and penalty goal as well as Joe Burgess’ late first half try kept Wigan right on Leeds’ coattails at half-time.

Wigan scored from their first break which came after ten minutes. Matty Bowen’s ball saw Anthony Gelling burst through before he threw a looping pass back inside for Smith to collect and score the first of the game. Smith sunk both the conversion and a penalty goal a few minutes later.

Leeds’ had been controlling the game however and this started to show soon after. Hooker Paul Aiton dabbed a kick through which Cuthbertson got on the end of, his third in three games at Headingley. Just three minutes later Handley scored his first Super League try as Cuthbertson kept the ball alive. The ball found its way to Kallum Watkins who committed Burgess before giving it to Handley who sneaked over in the corner.

Tomkins tussles with Hardaker
Tomkins tussles with Hardaker

Singleton also crashed over under the sticks on the back of a short ball from Cuthbertson. However Burgess did cross for Wigan with a few minutes of the first half remaining to keep Wigan in touching distance. George Williams put in an inch perfect chip to the corner which Burgess collected and dove over.

Forward Cuthbertson said: “The forwards did really well tonight, we don’t always get the credit with our backs being as good as they are but we did well tonight.”

It took twenty minutes of the second half before the score line changed, a real indication of the tightness of the game. Youngster Sutcliffe threw a lovely dummy before reaching out of the challenge and getting the ball over the line.

The home side’s pressure continued when Danny McGuire found himself gunning for the line however Burgess pulled of a fantastic tackle to deny the Leeds veteran the try. With a certain try looming from the quick play-the-ball Liam Farrell intercepted the ball from an offside position leading to a sin bin.

Wigan coach Shaun Wane said: “Throwing lazy arms and giving penalties away really cost us the game, we played well in patches but our discipline was really poor.”

Leeds managed to kill the game off in this time with their man advantage. Firstly, from the resulting penalty Sutcliffe kicked the penalty to give Leeds an eight point lead. Five minutes late impact substitute Burrow managed to push his way over from Hooker to finish the game off for the Rhinos.

Cuthbertson said: “Once we tightened up in the second half and took charge we really opened them up a bit.”

Wigan will try and find some form next weekend as they face fellow strugglers Wakefield at home next Friday. As for Leeds they will look to make it back-to-back wins as they face a tough trip to the South of France to face the Catalan Dragons.

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