Tomkins holds nerve to cap Wigan comeback

Leeds 22 Wigan 22
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The Independent Online

An unbelievable fightback and a penalty from Sam Tomkins after the hooter gave the champions an unlikely share of the spoils here last night. The Rhinos dominated territorially and produced enough chances to show that they could have a big say in the season, but could not survive a late surge from Wigan that brought them an incredible escape.

"He's pretty calm under pressure," said the Wigan coach, Michael Maguire, of Tomkins, who also sparked the resurgence with a brilliant solo try.

Joel Tomkins put Wigan ahead after ten minutes, although the try was almost entirely due to Leeds failing to tackle Thomas Leuluai.

The Rhinos' response was a purple patch that brought them two tries, but could have brought them four more. The first was the product of typically quick hands, with good work from Kallum Watkins and Jay Pitts to set up Jamie Jones-Buchanan. Three minutes later, Ryan Hall showed good awareness to kick ahead down the left wing, with Danny Buderus winning the race to touch down.

That should have been just the start of it, but Keith Senior uncharacteristically passed too early and wasted one chance and Watkins was denied another by a forward pass.

Kevin Sinfield was likewise turned down by the video referee when he touched down his own kick, but with the intervention of an offside team-mate. Hall had a couple more disallowed and a game that should have been dead and buried remained very much alive.

The precariousness of that lead saw Sinfield twice kick for goal from two penalties early in the second half, where Leeds would almost invariably have run the ball. Wigan's indiscipline cost them when, between those two goals, Jeff Lima was sent to the sin-bin. Sinfield surprisingly spurned a drop-goal opportunity, but all seemed well when Brent Webb sold a dummy to get over for the third Rhinos' try.

Liam Farrell's run and Sam Tomkins' kick and chase took Wigan into the last ten minutes with a glimmer of hope. That grew when Sean O'Loughlin's long pass and Darrell Goulding's brilliant take produced another try, but for the second Friday running the Warriors were still second best, even when Paul Prescott got over with a minute to play.

On the last play of a dramatic night, however, the hard-pressed Rhinos conceded the penalty and Tomkins kept his nerve.

"In the last 15 minutes they stepped up and we stopped playing," said Rhinos' Brian McDermott.

Leeds: Webb; Watkins, Ablett, Senior, Hall; Sinfield, Burrow; K Leuluai, Buderus, Bailey, Hauraki, Pitts, Jones-Buchanan. Substitutes used: Kirke, Cross, Clarkson, McShane.

Wigan: S Tomkins; Goulding, J Tomkins, Carmont, Roberts; O'Loughlin, T Leuluai; Prescott, McIlorum, Coley, Hansen, Hoffman, Farrell. Substitutes used: Finch, Mossop, Tuson, Lima.

Referee: R Silverwood (Mirfield)