Leeds, 18 Wigan, 14: Senior service takes Leeds to Old Trafford
Saturday 27 September 2008
It is probably the climax the season cried out for – Leeds versus St Helens in the Grand Final at Old Trafford next Saturday – but that line-up was only confirmed after a magnificently brave effort from Wigan here last night. Under siege for much of the match, they hung in against all the odds and were not beaten until Lee Smith's second try three minutes from time.
"I was real confident that the guys weren't going to be denied," said the Leeds coach, Brian McClennan, of his side's long battle to wear Wigan down. "But I looked at them and thought 'Gee, you're going to have to show some fortitude here." Wigan showed plenty of that. "All 17 gave their all," said Brian Noble. "We just didn't have the field position to post enough points."
It was a dislocated start, with half the South Stand roped off because of safety fears and Wigan stuck in traffic on the M62. When they did arrive, it was to a warm welcome from Leeds, who dominated the early stages. Smith did well to defuse a tricky kick from Trent Barrett and triggered a spectacular counter-attack. Jamie Jones-Buchanan carried the ball another 60 metres before being caught by Mark Calderwood, who paid the price for tying to slow down the restart by being sent to the sin-bin.
Leeds' Keith Senior went with him, for swinging the most eye-catching punches in the fracas that followed, but the Rhinos, normally so averse to taking kicks for goals, took the lead through Kevin Sinfield's penalty.
Wigan equalised through Pat Richards but the key moment of a tight, torrid first half came when Stuart Fielden was penalised in a tackle to allow Leeds to move upfield. Danny McGuire threw out a dreadful pass that Smith had to stretch to catch and touch down to give his side a four-point lead
Calderwood continued his try-saving heroics in the second half before George Carmont kept McGuire out and Richard Mathers and Liam Colbon were adjudged, after almost five minutes waiting for the video referee, to have held up Jamie Peacock.
Eventually, something had to crack and it did, just before the hour, when Scott Donald took Lauitiiti's pass and managed to turn it back inside for Senior before he could be forced into touch. This time not even the tenacity of Calderwood could stop Senior.
Sinfield added the conversion, plus a penalty when Mathers pulled back Donald in a chase for the ball.
Wigan gave themselves hope when Harrison Hansen went in from Thomas Leuluai's pass, but after Sinfield had missed a drop goal, Smith hacked on a loose ball to clinch a place in the Grand Final. Even then Feka Paleaaesina got one back for Wigan, but it was too late to change the outcome when Fielden knocked on from the kick-off.
Leeds: Webb; Smith, Ablett, Senior, Donald; McGuire, Burrow; K Leuluai, Diskin, Peacock, Jones-Buchanan, Ellis, Sinfield. Substitutes used: Lauitiiti, Bailey, Scruton, Kirke.
Wigan: Mathers; Calderwood, Phelps, Carmont, Richards; Barrett, T Leuluai; Fielden, Higham, Coley, Hansen, Bailey, J Tomkins. Substitutes used: Paleaaesina, Smith, Hock, Colbon.
Referee: S Ganson (St Helens)
Sky Sports and BT Sport announce Premier League live matches for 2015/16 with Man United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool in action
Football kits 2015/16: The good, the bad and the downright worst new shirts from around the world for next season
Copa America 2015: When does it start, what channel is it on and who should I support?
Chelsea 2015/16 home shirt leaked again as new picture appears online
Wimbledon 2015: 'Heather Watson deserved to win the match,' concedes world No 1 Serena Williams after gruelling contest
- 1 Michelle Watt's father says TV presenter killed herself because she was in constant pain
- 2 Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
- 3 San Francisco TV news crew attacked by armed robbers during live broadcast
- 4 Greek debt crisis: The photograph that conveys the despair of Greece's elderly
- 5 Miami defendant sobs in court as he realises he and the judge attended the same school
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Greece crisis: The wider lesson is that it’s time to abandon this failed experiment in currencies
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture