The best team in the country remain on course for Wembley but only after overcoming stubborn resistance from a Wigan side that matched them all the way in a classic Carnegie Challenge Cup quarter-final.
A try four minutes from time from Scott Donald guided the Rhinos to victory, but their coach, Brian McClennan, pointed to the efforts put in by the Great Britain captain, Jamie Peacock, who produced a full 80 minutes of relentless work in the pack.
"He looked like he fought in the wars," McClennan said. "He was bleeding from his elbow and from his eye, but he kept taking it up. It was a phenomenal effort from a great rugby player."
The bravery was not confined to Peacock. "The boys really had a dig and it would've been a worthy final," Wigan coach Brian Noble said. "On another day we would've come away with the spoils, but the bounce of the ball went Leeds' way."
Leeds suffered a minor early setback when an offside penalty gave Pat Richards the game's first points, but after only four minutes they claimed it's first try. Kevin Sinfield kept the ball alive with a pass scooped up by Brent Webb and Matt Diskin then found it far too easy to spin through Andy Coley's tackle to touch down. Wigan drew marginally closer with a second Richards penalty. Trent Barrett was putting in a series of kicks to keep the Rhinos on the back foot, but it was one of his less precise efforts that finished in the arms of Rob Burrow for the little scrum-half to go 60 metres to score, albeit from what Wigan felt was an offside position.
Wigan continued to press and were rewarded when Thomas Leuluai put up a kick and the former Leeds winger, Mark Calderwood, forced the ball down despite Donald's efforts. With only two points between the sides, another ruling by the officials was crucial when Richards had a try disallowed for an obstruction caused by Joel Tomkins.
Leeds took advantage when Danny McGuire and Diskin linked up for Webb to score.
There was no question of Wigan slackening their efforts and Leuluai got over to reduce the margin to two once more.
It seemed that the impetus might be with Wigan, but it was Leeds who kept cool for Sinfield and Gareth Ellis to supply Donald and for Sinfield to put over a clinching last-minute drop goal.
Leeds: Webb; Hall, Ellis, Senior, Donald; McGuire, Burrow; K Leuluai, Diskin, R Bailey, Peacock, Ablett, Sinfield. Substitutes used: Tamsey, Burgess, Wurall, Scruton.
Wigan: Richards; Calderwood, Goulding, Carmont, Colbon; Barrett, T Leuluai; Coley, Haigham, Prescott, Hock, P Bailey, Hansen. Substitutes used: Fielden, Paleaaseina, McIlorum, Tomkins.
Referee: R Silverwood (Mirfield).