Leeds Rhinos wanted a tough work-out in readiness for the Word Club Challenge and certainly got it tonight as rugged Wigan defeated the Super League champions at DW Stadium, writes Dave Craven.
The excellent wing Josh Charnley scored a hat-trick of tries as Leeds, who face NRL victors Manly Sea Eagles next Friday, battled hard throughout a physical encounter only to be clinically exposed down their fallible left side.
Defending well for most of the contest, and with England second-row Jamie Jones-Buchanan in peerless form, the West Yorkshire club have plenty of positives to take into their game against the Australians.
However, their discipline must improve and they need to tighten their left-side defence after Wigan unpicked them on three separate occasions.
Missing Kallum Watkins due to a wrist injury picked up in training, and also seeing winger Lee Smith depart in the first half with a sternum problem, Brian McDermott has some issues to deal with in the week ahead though both should be fit.
However, it was former Hull KR loanee Charnley who caused him most problems. He could have had four tries having also seen a fourth minute effort ruled out by video referee Richard Silverwood for an obstruction.
That was the only penalty Leeds benefited from in the entire half while Wigan, perhaps fortuitously, earned six to give them a welter of possession.
But Rhinos largely defended well and gave little opportunity for their hosts to strike only to be caught out twice by some slick handling down Wigan’s right.
Sam Tomkins twice chimed into the line to make telling passes and twice Charnley profited, first in the 16th minute with a little help from Darrell Goulding and then in the 28th following Tomkins’ arcing break which left Carl Ablett grounded.
Leeds played the majority of the game with two second-rows at centre; Carl Ablett had switched due to Watkins’ absence and his replacement Weller Hauraki was moved into t he three-quarters as part of a re-shuffle after wing Smith was withdrawn after half-hour.
Wigan extended their lead through Pat Richards’ penalty – he also converted all Wigan’s scores - after Jamie Peacock caught Chris Tuson high.
When Wigan were finally penalised for inter fence, Leeds scored immediately. Michael McIlorum and Thomas Leuluai did brilliantly to deny Brent Webb after Kevin Sinfield’s twirling run but there was no stopping Darrell Griffin as the ex-Huddersfield prop crashed over for his first try for the club.
Sinfield improved the 55th minute effort but Charnley had the last word following another impressive handling movement involving Sean O’Loughlin and Goulding.
Wigan: Tomkins; Charnley, Goulding, Hughes, Richards; Finch, Leuluai; Mossop, McIlorum, Flower, Hansen, Hock, O’Loughlin, Replacements: Tuson, Lauaki, Lima, Spencer.
Leeds: Webb; Smith, Hardaker, Ablett, Hall; Sinfield, McGuire; Bailey, Burrow, Peacock, Jones-Buchanan, Delaney, Hauraki. Replacements: Leuluai, McShane, Clarkson, Griffin.
Referee: Thierry Alibert (Toulouse)