Wigan 22 Leeds 12: Richards shines on home swansong to end Leeds’ reign

 

DW Stadium

Leeds’ proud, tenacious run as the rulers of Super League is over, after their patched-up and battle-weary side was outlasted by Wigan.

They now meet Warrington in the Grand Final at Old Trafford next Saturday but it would be telling them nothing they don’t know already to say that they will need to play better over the 80 minutes than they did before getting it right last night.

Nothing was given away lightly in a game notable for being the last at Wigan for Sam Tomkins before he  becomes the world’s most expensive rugby league player in New Zealand. It was not only the farewell night at the DW Stadium for Tomkins, but also for Lee Mossop and Pat Richards, the latter a player who, in his own way, has been almost as influential as Tomkins over the last few seasons. In a game expected to be as close as this, beforehand who could say how important his goal-kicking, or that of Leeds’ Kevin Sinfield, might prove to be?

The match started in the nervy fashion that question suggests, Tomkins losing the ball the first time he was tackled and Ben Jones-Bishop very nearly squeezing in at the corner. When Iain Thornley got a similar chance at the other end, courtesy of Richards’ inside pass, he accepted it. What is more, Richards converted from a wide angle.

The most exciting moment for Leeds’ travelling fans came from Ryan Hall’s weaving run, but the Warriors got back in numbers to snuff out that threat.

First blood in the second half looked likely to be even more pivotal than in the average tight match. It went in favour of Leeds, when Carl Ablett made a clean break and found the right pass to hit Joel Moon in support and leave Sinfield a relatively simple equalising conversion.

However, that acted as a wake-up call for Wigan. Almost for the first time in the match, their half-backs linked effectively and Liam Farrell scored with one of his characteristic angled runs. Richards landed the goal with his equally characteristic lack of fuss and then Matty Smith’s little kick took a lucky bounce off a defender to give Darrell Goulding a try after the struggling Kallum Watkins had conceded possession with a knock-on.

Old Trafford was within sight and not even Leeds could stop them. Josh Charnley’s try, from a wonderful run by Smith, was the icing  on the cake, although the Rhinos got a face-saver through Liam Sutcliffe.

Wigan: S Tomkins; Charnley, Goulding, Thornley, Richards; Green, Smith; Dudson, McIlorum, Mossop, Hansen, Farrell, Flower. Substitutes used: Hughes, L Tomkins, Crosby, Taylor. 

Leeds: Hardaker; Jones-Bishop, Watkins, Moon, Hall; McGuire, Sinfield; Leuluai, Burrow, Peacock, Jones-Buchanan, Ablett, Bailey.  Substitutes used: Clarkson, Achurch, Kirke, Sutcliffe. 

Referee: P Bentham (Warrington)

BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Attwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation' over plans to overhaul reverse-chronological timeline

Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation'

Facebook exasperates its users by deciding which posts they can and can’t see. So why has Twitter announced plans to do the same?
10 best waterproof mascaras

Whatever the weather: 10 best waterproof mascaras

We found lash-enhancing beauties that won’t budge no matter what you throw at them
Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'
Singapore's domestic workers routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals

Singapore's hidden secret of domestic worker abuse

David Cameron was shown the country's shiniest veneer on his tour. What he didn't see was the army of foreign women who are routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals
Showdown by Shirley Jackson: A previously unpublished short story from the queen of American Gothic

Showdown, by Shirley Jackson

A previously unpublished short story from the queen of American Gothic
10 best DSLRs

Be sharp! 10 best DSLRs

Up your photography game with a versatile, powerful machine
Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

Solved after 200 years

The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

Sunken sub

Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

Age of the selfie

Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes