Wigan work hard to give Gregory lift

Wigan 26 Leeds 22
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The Independent Online

Wigan showed astonishing resilience to keep their noses in front in a game of constant ebb and flow, and inflict only the second Super League defeat of the season on the Rhinos.

Wigan showed astonishing resilience to keep their noses in front in a game of constant ebb and flow, and inflict only the second Super League defeat of the season on the Rhinos.

Watched by their recuperating coach, Mike Gregory, for the first time since his medical treatment in America, Wigan made the sort of start that would give anyone a lift. After Terry Newton had been stopped on the line, Adrian Lam surprised the Leeds defence by kicking on the next tackle, and Kris Radlinski beat Richard Mathers in the air to touch down.

The Rhinos' reply was started and finished by the Papua New Guinea wing-man Marcus Bai. It was his weaving run out of his own 20-metre zone that got them moving and, at the end of that set of tackles, he was there to pursue Keith Senior's little kick and get the scoring touch.

Kevin Sinfield's missed conversion left Wigan with the lead, one they extended when Newton, apparently wrapped up on the ground in a three-man tackle, managed to twist his body and slam the ball down on the line. Andy Farrell again added the goal points.

Ali Lauiti'iti then took advantage of an Andrew Dunemann kick that should have been tidied up by Radlinski or Danny Tickle to score his third try in four games since arriving from New Zealand. Sinfield contributed the conversion and also the penalty which brought Leeds level.

Just two minutes into the second half Wigan regained the lead when Lam ran across the defensive line and sent Gareth Hock over. The home side were going for the kill and, after 49 minutes, Newton swept up a loose ball for Sean O'Loughlin to score, despite Leeds players furiously protesting a forward pass.

Danny Tickle, kicking in place of Farrell during one of his trips to the blood bin, landed the conversion, but Sinfield hit back with a penalty. The Rhinos' fightback continued when Sinfield's high kick came off Bai's body but the winger recovered to slip the ball for Jamie Jones-Buchanan to go over for a converted try.

Three quick penalties put Leeds in perfect position for Sinfield to tie the scores again, but no sooner had they achieved that than Danny McGuire conceded a penalty for stealing the ball from Radlinski. Farrell, looking like the man in the iron mask with a plaster across his face to stop his nose bleed, put Wigan ahead again.

When Sinfield's attempt at a short drop-out went wrong in the last minute, another Farrell penalty sealed a gutsy win.

Wigan: Radlinski; Dallas, Aspinwall, Connolly, Hodgson; Orr, Lam; O'Connor, Newton, C Smith, Tickle, Farrell, O'Loughlin. Substitutes used: Sculthorpe, M Smith, Wild, Hock.

Leeds: Mathers; Cummins, Walker, Senior, Bai; McGuire, Dunemann; Bailey, Diskin, McDonald, Furner, Lauiti'iti, Sinfield. Substitutes used: Burrow, Poching, Ward, Jones-Buchanan

Referee: R Silverwood (Mirfield).

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