Wigan Warriors 34 Leeds Rhinos 0: Rhinos’ youngsters impress despite defeat to Wigan

Jordan Baldwinson is stopped by John Bateman and Tommy Leuluai.    Picture Bruce Rollinson
Jordan Baldwinson is stopped by John Bateman and Tommy Leuluai. Picture Bruce Rollinson
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England stand-off George Williams scored two tries to make up for an off day with the boot as Wigan put a weakened Leeds to the sword with victory at the DW Stadium.

No doubt with an eye on next Saturday’s Challenge Cup semi-final against Hull, Leeds coach Brian McDermott went into the last match of the regular season before the split for the Super 8s without 15 senior players.

The Rhinos had three debutants, including 17-year-old threequarter Harry Newman, who made history by becoming the first player born this century to play in Super League, and another three players on the bench with just three Super League appearances between them.

Hooker Michael McIlorum opened the scoring on 10 minutes, dummying his way over for his first try of the season and Williams kicked his only conversion.

Full-back Sam Tomkins then showed a touch of class which could yet earn him an England recall by threading the ball through the Leeds defence and winning the race to touch down and double his try tally for the season.

As Wigan continued to pummel the visitors’ defence, second rower Willie Isa twice forced his way over from close range but had both efforts disallowed by video official James Child.

The pressure told when Williams sliced his way through for his first try but his conversion attempt rebounded off an upright to leave his side leading 14-0.

Leeds rarely threatened the Wigan line and when 17-year-old full-back Jack Walker went close he lost his grip on the ball.

It was a similar story in the second half, with the Rhinos pinned inside their own half for long periods but with Wigan unable to press home their advantage.

Centre Oliver Gildart went over for two tries in five minutes in the third quarter but it was only in the last 10 minutes when the champions began to flex their muscles.

Quick hands by Tomkins and Anthony Gelling provided just enough space for Tom Davies to finish at the corner to bring up Wigan’s century of Super League tries in 2017 and Gildart broke clear to get Williams over.

With just one goal from six attempts, Williams gave way to Sam Powell who converted his side’s seventh try to wrap up a comfortable if unimpressive victory.

Wigan: S. Tomkins, Davies, Gelling, Gildart, Burgess, Williams, Leuluai, Nuuausala, McIlorum, Sutton, Isa, Bateman, O’Loughlin. Substitutes: Clubb, Powell, Tautai, Wells.

Leeds: Walker, Briscoe, Keinhorst, A. Sutcliffe, Newman, Golding, Lilley, Garbutt, Jones-Buchanan, Baldwinson, Ormondroyd, Ablett, Mullally. Substitutes: Oledzki, Jordan-Roberts, Smith, Whiteley.

Referee: B Thaler (RFL).