Leeds Rhinos 14 Wigan Warriors 18: Harry Newman goes from hero to zero as Rohan Smith's side crash out

In the space of eight days, Harry Newman has discovered just how fickle sport can be.

Last week at the DW Stadium, the talented centre helped inspire 12-man Leeds Rhinos to a stunning 40-18 victory over Wigan Warriors with two instinctive interception tries.

His instincts proved his undoing in the rematch between the teams in the Challenge Cup.

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After ignoring support to score in the first half as Leeds built up a commanding 14-0 lead, Newman did not get so lucky with the game on the line in the closing stages.

Wigan had charged back to take control at 18-14 but found themselves on the ropes following a break by Newman.

The 23-year-old had the opportunity to put Richie Myler over under the posts but instead went himself and was tackled by Bevan French, leading to accusations of a selfish streak to go with his perceived petulance.

That proved to be Leeds' last chance as they fell at the first hurdle for the third time since lifting the Challenge Cup in 2020.

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They were left to rue one that got away after taking a firm grip on the tie in a reverse of last week.

Harry Newman is congratulated by Richie Myler after scoring a try against Wigan. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com)Harry Newman is congratulated by Richie Myler after scoring a try against Wigan. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com)
Harry Newman is congratulated by Richie Myler after scoring a try against Wigan. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com)

From game to game and half to half, it is impossible to know what to expect from Rohan Smith's inconsistent Rhinos.

Leeds have earned a reputation as slow starters but they turned the form book on its head with a controlled first-half performance despite missing several players from last week, including Blake Austin, Ash Handley and James Bentley.

French's try just before half-time proved crucial as holders Wigan kicked off the defence of the trophy with the kind of comeback win that quickly banished the memories of the Super League collapse against Leeds.

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It was a gripping contest from the start between the competition's two most successful clubs.

Wigan celebrate Bevan French's first try. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com)Wigan celebrate Bevan French's first try. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com)
Wigan celebrate Bevan French's first try. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com)

All eyes were on Wigan's reaction to last week's humiliating defeat but the Rhinos picked up where they left off at the DW Stadium.

Morgan Gannon and Cameron Smith had already threatened by the time Tom Holroyd opened the scoring after eight minutes.

Leeds opted to run a penalty in Wigan territory and were rewarded handsomely thanks to a barnstorming run by the England prop off the ruck.

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It was an advert for sheer determination but the Warriors will struggle to concede a softer try all season.

Wigan's cause was not helped by the loss of Ethan Havard to a dislocated elbow, leaving the visitors a man down on the bench in warm conditions.

Nene Macdonald was crowded out on the last tackle as Leeds continued to dominate but the momentum shifted following a break from deep by Jake Wardle.

The Rhinos survived scares when French and Wardle saw tries ruled out for forward passes before Smith was denied by referee Chris Kendall at the other end following a push by Aidan Sezer.

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French fumbled the ball just short of the line after outjumping Myler to claim Harry Smith's high kick as Wigan continued to ask questions.

Rhyse Martin settled Leeds by knocking over his second goal from a penalty for offside – and it got even better for the Rhinos when Newman stormed over.

A superb offload by Sezer sent the centre clear and he finished following a juggle and something of a struggle after ignoring support on each shoulder.

Martin knocked over the conversion to make it 14-0 with half-time approaching, a time that called for a solid set from the restart.

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Instead, Derrell Olpherts dropped a poor pass close to his own line to give Wigan all the encouragement they needed.

From the scrum, the Warriors set up for a shift to the left where French outmuscled Newman to touch down.

Smith missed from the tee but Wigan had a spring in their step going into the break.

That was evident in the way they began the second half, French backing up a trademark break by Liam Farrell to make it a double 32 seconds after the interval.

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Smith added the extras to make it a four-point game and pile more pressure on the jittery Rhinos.

The Warriors lifted their intensity and Leeds were struggling to go with them, Macdonald forced into touch after being ambushed by Wigan defenders.

Fired up by last week's loss, Matt Peet's side could not be denied as they wiped out the Rhinos' advantage with a third try.

After French forced a repeat set with a neat kick, Smith put Junior Nsemba in with a classy pass.

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The home fans took encouragement from Smith's missed conversion but all the momentum was with Wigan and they completed the comeback when Ryan Hampshire sent the outstanding Wardle over from a scrum play.

Pressure from French on Myler as they contested a high kick had earned the Warriors perfect field position, which was the story of the second half.

Leeds had hope when Smith hit the post from the tee but they knew their race was run after Newman opted to go for glory and came unstuck.

Leeds Rhinos: Myler, Tindall, Newman, Macdonald, Olpherts, Gannon, Sezer, Oledzki, O'Connor, Holroyd, Martin, McDonnell, Smith. Substitutes: Sangare, Lisone, Donaldson, Johnson.

Wigan Warriors: French, Miski, King, Wardle, Marshall, Hampshire, Smith, Havard, Powell, Byrne, Smithies, Farrell, Shorrocks. Substitutes: Ellis, Mago, O'Neill, Nsemba.

Referee: Chris Kendall.

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