A fitting climax to the Magic Weekend saw Leeds beaten for the first time in the mid-season showcase as Wigan consolidated their Super League lead, but there was little to choose between the two sides.
The reigning champions against the league leaders promised a high calibre finale to the round of Super League matches at the Etihad Stadium, with many supporters of other clubs staying on to watch. They soon saw something that has become familiar – Sam Tomkins scoring a try, reading a one-handed offload from Ian Thornley.
A shoulder charge by Michael McIlorum on Kevin Sinfield conceded a penalty, which Sinfield kicked to reduce that early lead. Sinfield continued to look groggy for several minutes, but he had all his wits about him when he backed up Zak Hardaker's break for the first Leeds try midway through the first half.
The slender lead did not last long. Ryan Bailey lost possession with a clumsy effort at the play-the-ball near his posts and Tomkins put Pat Richards over in the corner. It was a truly extraordinary try that brought the Rhinos back into it, Kallum Watkins going for the corner and somehow managing to ground the ball despite the attentions of four defenders.
On the stroke of half-time, Sinfield's mixed evening continued when his ill-advised short kick rebounded to Josh Charnley for a gift try. The Rhinos needed to score next and they did so through Joe Vickery's first try in Super League. The game was now delicately balanced.
After 72 minutes, Joel Moon's break and McGuire's support seemed to have levelled the scores, only for it to be chalked off for an obstruction. Tomkins missed, leaving Wigan vulnerable to the very last.
Leeds Hardaker; Vickery, Watkins, Moon, Hall; Sinfield, McGuire; Leuluai, Burrow, Bailey, Jones-Buchanan, Clarkson, Sutcliffe. Substitutes used McShane, Kirke, Achurch, Singleton.
Wigan S Tomkins; Charnley, Goulding, Thornley, Richards; Powell, Smith; Flower, McIlorum, Mossop, Hansen, Farrell, O'Loughlin. Substitutes used L Tomkins, Lauaki, Tuson, Crosby.
Referee R Silverwood.