The only try of the most dour of games, from Lee Smith in the last minute, took Leeds into the semi-finals of the Challenge Cup.
The one break of a contest between kickers left the Super League leaders stunned and their fans furious. Missiles were thrown on to the pitch from the Wigan end, one of them hitting the touch judge Robert Hicks. It was a dramatic finish to a tie which, in the way it was dominated by the boot, reminded Smith of his stay in rugby union with Wasps. "It was that kind of game, but both us and Wigan have got great defences," he said.
Both sides took a calculated risk, with a leading player returning ahead of schedule from a knee injury – Jamie Peacock for Leeds and Amos Roberts for Wigan. In damp conditions that had seen the Roses match on the adjacent cricket ground abandoned for the day, Wigan were the more ragged early on. They would have been punished but for poor goal-kicking from Kevin Sinfield, who hit the post with two penalty attempts.
Peacock came off the bench mid-way through the first half and put in a mistimed, high tackle on Sam Tomkins giving Pat Richards the chance to put Wigan ahead. Two more Richards penalties followed but Sinfield found his range with two kicks before half-time.
Sam Tomkins was the only player to come anywhere near a try, scrambling over the line after regathering his own high kick but not being able to force the ball down. The kicking competition continued. Richards and Sinfield both missed but in between Sinfield brought the scores level after Liam Farrell was sent to the sin-bin for a late challenge on Danny McGuire. Keith Senior had avoided such a punishment when he kicked out in the tackle and caught Joel Tomkins' head.
Wigan took the lead again when Brett Delaney was adjudged to have stripped the ball from George Carmont. Senior was held up over the line and Delaney passed into touch as the Rhinos made their last big effort. From a scrum Sinfield fed Smith, who found a gap. The Leeds captain then hit the woodwork for the third time. "We were confident because of our big-match experience," said Leeds's coach, Brian McClennan. "We have a record of getting teams at the death."
St Helens beat Barrow 32-12 in the afternoon's other tie. The last non-Super League team went out when Batley were beaten 74-12 by the Catalans Dragons.
Leeds Rhinos Smith; Donald, Delaney, Senior, Hall; Sinfield, McGuire; K Leuluai, Buderus, Bailey, Kirke, Ablett, Jones-Buchanan. Substitutes used: Diskin, Peacock, Eastwood, Clarkson.
Wigan Warriors Richards; Roberts, Gleeson, Carmont, Pryce; S Tomkins, T Leuluai; Fielden, Riddell, Coley, J Tomkins, Bailey, O'Loughlin. Substitutes used: Prescott, McIlorum, Farrell, Tuson.
Referee P Bentham (Warrington).Reuse content