By the narrowest of margins, Wigan earned back the two vital points they lost for salary cap discrepancies this week, and extended Leeds' losing run to five games at Headingley last night.
Kevin Sinfield's late conversion would have given Leeds the draw if it had gone over rather than hitting the post, but Wigan's victory, set up by a spectacular try from Mark Calderwood on the ground where he used to be a hero, was well deserved. "That was probably the best team effort since I've been here," said Brian Noble, the coach brought in in mid-season to rescue Wigan.
"We found a reason to win when previously we would probably have found a reason to lose."
Leeds had taken the lead after five minutes after a typically thunderous run from Iafeta Paleaaesina had set up the position. Danny Orr's footwork to beat Jamie Jones-Buchanan and his pass to David Vaealiki were of the highest quality as well.
A nervous Leeds drew level after 23 minutes. Vaealiki knocked down a Leeds pass. When Ali Lauitiiti re-gathered, the defence reacted slowly and he was awarded the try even though Chris Ashton's tackle appeared to take his toe into touch.
There were no arguments about the try that put Leeds ahead, Ian Kirke swatting off a series of weak tackles to romp over after Gareth Hock's high tackle on Jamie Thackray had helped the Rhinos upfield.
A Michael Dobson penalty just before the break cut the margin to four points. But Leeds scored first in the second half, Lauitiiti and Keith Senior handling beautifully to give Ashley Gibson enough space on the left touchline.
A quick riposte was needed and it came from a lovely side-stepping run from Vaealiki and pass inside to Ashton. A conversion and penalty from Dobson brought the scores level.
A piece of magic from Calderwood gave Wigan the lead. Picking up the ball deep in his own half, he was caught by Gibson, but positioned himself to take Ashton's pass when the full-back continued the attack.
Dobson had a chance to clinch the game, but missed with a drop goal. Then Gibson claimed his second try for Leeds from a kick-through by Sinfield, who failed agon-isingly with his goal-kick.
"It's hurting a whole lot and sometimes you just try too hard," said Leeds' Tony Smith of his side's worst run for 10 years.
Leeds: Tansey; Donald, Toopi, Senior, Gibson; Sinfield, Burrow; Bailey, Millard, Jones-Buchanan, Walker, Peacock, Ellis. Substitutes used: Diskin, Lauitiiti, Kirke, Thackray.
Wigan: Ashton; Calderwood, Vaealiki, McAvoy, Richards; Orr, Dobson; Fielden, Higham, Paleaaesina, Hock, Fletcher, O'Loughlin. Substitutes used: Radlinski, Logan, Godwin, Hansen.
Referee: A Klein (Keighley).Reuse content