Charnley's hat-trick routs Rhinos in Warriors cruise
Wigan Warriors 20 Leeds Rhinos 6
Dave Hadfield was a schoolboy convert to rugby league, the game which, one way or another, has dominated his life ever since. After working for newspapers in Shropshire and Blackpool (where he covered the fortunes of Blackpool Borough) he travelled the world, working mainly in Hong Kong and Sydney. He became The Independent's rugby league man in 1990 and has written five books on the game and broadcast extensively for Sky and the BBC. Dave played his last game at the age of 53 and would have set up a try if anyone could have been bothered supporting his break. When not writing about the sport, he now limits himself to a bit of tick and pass with his local club, the Bolton Mets. Family includes supporters - of varying degrees of dedication - of Salford, Wigan, Sheffield Eagles and St George Illawarra.
Sunday 12 February 2012
Josh Charnley made Leeds look anything but potential world champions with all three of the tries that kick-started Wigan's season.
The winger scored 27 times in a highly productive first full season last year and he opened his account for 2012 as Wigan made up for their disappointment at losing at home to Huddersfield last weekend.
They took full toll of an unfocused performance from the Rhinos, who may have had this Friday's World Club Challenge against Manly somewhere in the back of their minds.
Their coach, Brian McDermott, denied that fixture was a factor, simply saying "there were too many areas where we came up a bit short."
Leeds face a manpower shortage in the backs for the Manly match, with Kallum Watkins missing this one with a wrist injury and Lee Smith going off with damaged ribs.
All that was of little concern to Charnley, whose tries will have been all the sweeter to him for having been scored down the flank occupied by England's current first choice winger, Ryan Hall. There was no doubt which of them looked international class last night.
Charnley's first touchdown, from a long pass delivered by Sean O'Loughlin, was disallowed for an obstruction in the middle of the field. There were to be no such reprieves when he got his next two chances.
Both tries owed a good deal to the incisive lines of attack run from full-back by Sam Tomkins. In the 16th minute, he arced and straightened to create the overlap, with Darrell Goulding's final pass releasing Charnley.
The second also owed plenty to Leeds' indiscipline. Weller Hauraki, angry with himself for conceding possession, was penalised for his role in instigating a punch-up.
Wigan went straight to the other end, where Tomkins found a similar gap, although Charnley still had plenty to do to score the try.
Pat Richards landed both conversions and a penalty early in the second half when Jamie Peacock went high on Chris Tuson, before Darrell Griffin replied with a close-range effort.
Any prospect of Leeds turning things around disappeared after Charnley made a marvellous 50-metre before receiving the ball back from Goulding after a crossfield move to complete his hat-trick.
Coach, Shaun Wane said: "I gave the players a hard week, but I was 100 per cent sure they would respond," he said. "Leeds came to play and wanted to win. I hope they beat Manly."
Wigan Tomkins; Charnley, Goulding, Hughes, Richards; Finch, T.Leuluai; Mossop, McIlorum, Flower, Hansen, Hock, O'Loughlin. Subs used Tuson, Lauaki, Lima, Spencer.
Leeds Webb; Smith, Ablett, Hardaker, Hall; Sinfield, McGuire; Bailey, Burrow, Peacock, Jones-Buchanan, Delaney, Hauraki. Subs used K.Leuluai, Clarkson, Griffin, McShane.
Referee T Alibert (France).
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