Burrow digs deep for Leeds

Leeds 34 Wigan 10
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The Independent Online

Leeds maintained their perfect start to the league season, thanks to a blistering first half hour that put Wigan's recent revival firmly into context.



Inspired by an outstanding all-round contribution from their England scrum-half, Rob Burrow, they built what always looked likely to be an unassailable lead, although they had to survive a tricky mid-period of the match when Wigan's spirit could have made it a closer contest.

Leeds showed right from the start why they are the reigning champions and current Super League leaders. Their support play, kicking game and clinical finishing were all of a different order from Wigan's. It was Burrow's 40/20 kick in the first minute that set them on their way. From that possession, Kevin Sinfield speared a perfect inside ball for Kylie Leuluai's angled run between his two opposing props and Leeds were on their way.

Danny McGuire's cross-field kick set up the second, Shaun Ainscough missing his attempted clearance and Scott Donald pouncing.

The third could be called a little fortunate, as the ball seemed to go forward at least once after Ian Kirke's defence-splitting run. Burrow did not hang around for the verdict and scooted over for the try.

It was Lee Smith who nailed the 40/20 for the try that took the Rhinos' lead to 22 points, but it was Ali Lauitiiti's trade-mark over-arm pass that created the score for Ryan Hall.

Wigan were shell-shocked by the quality of Leeds' rugby, with all its incisive angled running, but they managed a defiant gesture before half time, when Thomas Leuluai's long, looping pass released Ainscough in the corner. They could have been a little closer still if Eamonn O'Carroll had not been stopped on the line, but there had really been only one side in it during the first 40 minutes.

Two more Wigan players were denied shortly after the break – Leuluai for offside and Gareth Hock, rather unluckily, for an obstruction that negated his magnificent run.

A try from either of those could have changed the pattern of the game; instead Leeds again demonstrated their ruthless finishing when Hall claimed his second from Burrow's kick.

Jamie Peacock battled his way over for the Rhinos' sixth, with Sinfield kicking his fifth goal before Hock, rather too late, got one that did count.

Leeds: Smith; Donald, Gibson, Watkins, Hall; McGuire, Burrow; K Leuluai, Jones-Buchanan, Bailey, Ablett, Kirke, Sinfield. Substitutes used: Burgess, Lauitiiti, Peacock, Webb.

Wigan: Richards; Roberts, Bailey, Carmont, Ainscough; S.Tomkins, T Leuluai; Fielden, Riddell, Paleaaesina, Hock, J.Tomkins, O'Loughlin. Substitutes used: Hansen, Coley, O'Carroll, McIlorum.

Referee: I Smith.

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