Wigan Warriors produced a clinical performance to cruise past Leeds Rhinos 46-8 on their return to the DW Stadium.
The loss deepens the Rhinos’ troubles as they find themselves just one point to the good in the race for the top eight, while for Wigan, victory keeps them within sight of leaders St. Helens.
With both sides having an influx of returning players from injury and international duty, it looked set for a typical grudge match between two of the league’s most prestigious clubs.
Leeds opened the scoring within just five minutes as Brett Ferres swept up a bouncing ball, yet Wigan’s response was quick and decisive.
Liam Marshall hit the Rhinos with two tries down the left edge, hugging the touch-line to score.
Two tries in as many minutes sent a signal of what was to come for the Rhinos, as the opening minutes proved to be Leeds’ best spell in the game before a second-half collapse sent Wigan into overdrive.
Josh Woods would fight his way over the line for his first Warriors try, while the impressive Sam Tomkins would convert to give his side a 22-4 lead at half-time.
Early in the second-half, Leeds looked to have found a way back into the game with Luke Briscoe crossing only for the try to be ruled out for a ball steal.
From this moment on the momentum swung to Wigan as they went for the throat of the Rhinos’. Liam Farrell showed no ill signs on his return to exploit the Leeds’ defence before Tommy Leuluai barged over.
The real fireworks came in the last ten minutes. Joel moon squeezed over a spectacular finish to give the travelling supporters something to smile about.
However, that smile was soon to be removed as Tom Davies crossed then Liam Marshall finished off his hat trick with the try of the night.
WHAT WE’VE LEARNED
It may be time to panic for Leeds
Finding themselves just one point above Huddersfield and Catalans in seventh place, Leeds will be looking over their shoulder nervously.
A tough away fixture to Castleford follows next, then the Rhinos welcome Wakefield to Headingley. If performances don’t improve the Rhinos could find themselves in deeper trouble.
However, with the return of senior players this matchday, there could be a turnaround in fortunes if the likes of Richie Myler can hit the ground running.
Sam Tomkins could be a huge miss
Since his return to Super League, Tomkins hasn’t managed to recapture his form prior to his NRL move, in fact, he returned a different player.
His raw pace and elusiveness is less so relied on these days as his cunningness and smarts come to the forefront. His experience will be vital to the Warriors this season if they are to win a trophy.
On his day, he is not a bad goal kicker either with nine from ten attempts against Leeds. It remains to be seen if Zak Hardaker can stride straight back into the game, but Wigan will need to see the very best of him to live up the Sam’s high standards.
Man Of The Match- Liam Farrell (Wigan)
On his return to the side, Farrell showed exactly what he is about. A tireless worker, a great ball-runner and an all-round threat to the opposition.
Farrell registered 24 tackles throughout the game, matched with 14 carries for 143 metres. Add to that six tackle busts and a try and you can hardly argue against him.
Covering all fronts on the pitch, it is a huge bonus for Wigan to have Farrell back in the side.
Tries: Marshall (x3), Davies, Leuluai, Woods, Farrell
Goals: Tomkins (x9)
Drop Goals: n/a
Tries: Ferres, Moon
Drop Goals: n/a
Wigan Warriors: Tomkins, Davies, Bateman, Gildart, Marshall, Woods, Powell, Clubb, Leuluai, Navarette, Isa, Farrell, O’Loughlin, Tautai, Escare, Hamlin, Greenwood.
Leeds Rhinos: Jack Walker, Briscoe, Sutcliffe, Briscoe, Hall, Moon, Myler, Garbutt, Parcell, Oledzki, Smith, Ferres, Cuthbertson, Golding, Singleton, Ormandroyd, Walters
Referee: Ben Thaler