LEEDS FIGHT OFF LATE WIGAN COMEBACK
Leeds Rhinos made it back to back wins over the top two teams in super league after fighting off a late Wigan comeback on Friday night at the Headingley Stadium. Leeds continued their recent run of form to gain a fantastic win and take them off the bottom of the league for the first time in a long time. They have started to hit a bit of form just in time for the Middle 8’s, winning 4 of their last 5 games. Whilst not many would’ve expected them to go down anyway, it just bodes well for Leeds to hit a bit of form and get some of their key players back to full fitness just in time.
The game itself wasn’t that great, if it was seen by an outsider, you wouldn’t have been able to say which side was top and which side was bottom. There wasn’t any real quality in the game, while both defences were good at times, they didn’t really need to be as both sides didn’t really offer much in the attacking part of their games. Try’s seemed to come from poor defences efforts more than great attacking skill, except the final try of the game from Williams.
Leeds started the game well, scoring the first try of the game, something they seem to be making a habit of, through Kallum Watkins. Wigan didn’t have to wait long to get back into the game as Williams, who was Wigan’s best player on the night, kicked a little grubber through and Charnley had the easiest of finishes in the corner. The first half was poor, and both sides seem to struggle in getting anything going. Leeds lead 6-4 at halftime.
LEEDS SEEMED TO WANT IT MORE
This is a game that was a must win for Wigan, one in which would’ve put them back to the top of the league going into the last game before the Super 8’s. For Leeds, they had nothing to play for, with only pride and a bit more confidence going into the Middle 8’s. However, it seemed to me, stood on the terraces, that Leeds wanted this game more. Wigan seemed to underestimate the Rhinos and expect to just turn up and get the job done without really getting out of 1st gear, it backfired massively.
Leeds were hitting harder, running harder and running further than the Warriors during the whole game. Leeds were getting past the halfway line by the 3rd tackle on each set, while Wigan seemed to kicking on the last well before the halfway line. Leeds won the battle down the middle early on and kept hold of that throughout the game, keeping Wigan well clear of their line and not really having to face much pressure.
The thing that seem to annoy Wigan the most and ultimately win the game for Leeds, was the battle on the floor. Leeds had the ruck speed, something in which Wigan seem to win well in most games. However, Leeds slowed the Wigan ruck down and sped theirs up to gain a great advantage in the game, one in which Wigan could never win back.
WIGAN LEFT IT TOO LATE
Wigan have won quite a few games very late on this season. However, you just sensed that this time they had left it too late, with too much to do. Leeds took a 18-4 lead with just 15 minutes to go after Cuthbertson and Ferres had scored early second half tries to extend the Rhinos lead to 3 scores. Wigan needed to score 3 times in 15 minutes to get something from the game, after the previous 65 minutes, that seemed an impossible task.
Wigan, like always came to life in the final 15 minutes of the game. They finally started to show a bit of flair in their attack, knowing they had to try and do something different to get past the stubborn Leeds defence. Leeds started to tire late on, which helped the Warriors. With just 11 minutes to go, Jack Higginson went over for his first ever Wigan Warriors try to spark a little comeback. Then just a minute later, George Williams showed some sublime footwork to get past the Leeds defence and go under the sticks for another try. Smith converted both tries and Wigan trailed just 18-16 with 7 minutes to go.
Wigan fans started to believe that their side were going to do it again, but Leeds players didn’t back down and their fans became louder to inspire their players to hold on. Wigan had 3 sets on the Leeds line in the last few minutes, but just couldn’t get that real good chance as Leeds stood tall. Brian McDermott’s men held on for a much deserved 18-16 win and you feel it would’ve been a real steal if Wigan was to win that game late on.
VIEW OF THE MANAGERS
Leeds coach Brian McDermott was delighted to see his club climb off the bottom of Super League. McDermott said:
“Leeds have never finished bottom in their 136-year history so of course it means a lot,” he added. “The job is not done yet but we’re really pleased to be off the bottom, let’s hope we can finish ninth.”
“We got a bit erratic in the second half but we’re still improving as a team. This group is still learning some things together and overall I thought it was just a great night.”
“We’ve been through some tough moments this year and we toughed that one out against Wigan, who wouldn’t roll over. I thought we defended really well. It got a bit emotional in the second half.”
Wigan coach Shaun Wane, without nine senior players through injury and suspension, had no complaints over the result. Wane said:
“To lose any game is disappointing,” he added. “I thought the effort was good but our game management could have been better. You can’t afford to turn over easy ball against a side like Leeds.
“We weren’t at the races in the first half so to go in at half-time so close, there were more positives for us. It was a great effort to get back in the game.
“We showed lots of desire but we got beaten on the floor, they butchered us with quick play-the-balls.”
IN THE SHEDS
Leeds Rhinos lost young Jordan Lilley in the second half as he had to be helped from the field, he didn’t return to the game. After the game, the player revealed he is now fine, and he was just suffering from bad cramp in all areas of his leg and couldn’t walk or run.
Wigan Warriors’ Lewis Tierney left the field for a concussion test in the 73rd minute of the game after taking a nasty looking knock to the head. He didn’t return to the game.
There were two incidents in this game in which the RFL may look to punish players.
Firstly, Taulima Tautai committed a serious looking cannonball tackle on Cuthbertson in the 1st half of the game. Having only seen it on one angle since, it looked a bad one, if the RFL think so, it could be a long ban for Tautai.
Secondly, in the second half, Josh Charley seems to put his hands on the match official after complaining about a penalty. Now while this isn’t hugely serious, it is something that the RFL are starting to clamp down on.
Leeds Rhinos: (6) 18
Tries: Watkins, Cuthbertson, Ferres
Goals: Sutcliffe 3/3
Wigan Warriors: (4) 16
Tries: Charnley, Higginson, Williams
Goals: Smith 2/3
Leeds Rhinos: Sutcliffe; Briscoe, Watkins, Moon, Hall; Lilley, Burrow; Galloway, Segeyaro, Singleton, Achurch, Ablett, Jones-Buchanan.
Replacements: Cuthbertson, Delaney, Keinhorst, Ferres.
Wigan Warriors: Tierney; Charnley, Gildart, Sarginson, Manfredi; Williams, Smith; Bretherton, Powell, Flower, Sutton, Isa, Mossop.
Replacements: Tautai, Nuuausala, Shorrocks, Higginson.
Referee: Robert Hicks
Venue: Headingley Stadium, Leeds
Date/Time: Friday 15th July 2016 – 20:00pm GMT