In their first encounter since the 2015 Super League Grand Final, Wigan hosted champions Leeds at the DW stadium. Billed as ‘the rematch’, the ensuing 80 minutes barely resembled a contest as the Rhinos were systematically broken down by an impressive Warriors side.
Denied an opening score for obstruction, Wigan finally got on the scoreboard after 28 minutes and were justly rewarded for their early endeavour.
Winger Dom Manfredi collected the ball inside his own ten metre line before slicing through numerous Leeds tackles like a hot knife through butter.
Having charged some 80 metres, Manfredi was finally brought down short of the Leeds line. John Bateman snapped up a short pass from the resultant play-the-ball to cross the whitewash and open the scoring for Wigan.
Matty Smith added the extras and Wigan were six nil up at the break, although in truth, the scoreline flattered a poor first half from a lacklustre Leeds.
The Rhinos upped their effort in the second period, but second-rate defence at key moments was to prove their undoing, as sustained pressure from Wigan began to turn into tries.
A sweeping move from the right flank saw Oliver Gildart shrug off two half-hearted challenges to add a second score. Leeds were finding Wigan’s pace and passing increasingly difficult to deal with.
Dom Manfredi was next to score after a Taulima Tautai offload found Anthony Gelling, whose backhand pass found Manfredi who touched down in the corner, with the Rhinos chasing shadows.
Leeds’ defence was akin to Swiss cheese, as Tony Clubb punched another hole through to wrestle the ball down. Gelling charged through the middle to add yet another try without reply.
The Rhinos were in danger of being routed, before a consolation try from Zak Hardaker, the fullback converting his own socre, stopped the Yorkshiremen from being ‘nilled’ for the first time since 1998.
Shaun Wane was charitable to Leeds in his post-match comments, but the truth of the matter is that the Rhinos bear no resemblance to the treble winners of 2015. “That was still a good Leeds side. I thought our back five were good and our middles were really good. It was a pleasing performance.”
“We had to earn it in the first half. We tried to force it, but in the second half I thought we were ruthless.”
Rhinos boss Brian McDermott was left to rake through the ashes of another defeat. “It probably should have been about 24-0 at half-time. Wigan let us off the hook.
“I thought we were way off from the start. The absentees may have had some effect, but the nucleus of our team were off and defensively we were nowhere near.”
Tries: Bateman, Gildart, Manfredi, Clubb, Gelling
Goals: Smith 4