Mann sets Leeds on their way

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The Independent Online
Leeds did exactly what everyone outside Wigan - and even some inside - hoped they would, keeping interest in the Stones Centenary Championship alive by adding a steely determination to their usual enterprise and gaining a richly deserved victory.

Wigan's first defeat of the season means that they are now only a modest two points ahead at the top of the table. Few would bet against them eventually winning this transitional competition, but there were echoes of the playing style of one of their greatest luminaries, the present Leeds coach, Dean Bell, in the way their opponents dealt with them at Headingley last night.

Leeds must have wondered how they managed to be four points down at half- time, such was the pressure they had exerted. Part of the answer was in two disallowed tries and a number of other neglected chances, and the rest in the way their expansiveness once caught them out when Garry Schofield's speculative long pass was picked off by Jason Robinson, who went 90 yards to score.

Even when Leeds finally took the lead they merited, it was short-lived. They went ahead two minutes into the second half, their forwards Mick Fozzard and James Lowes doing superbly to get their passes out of tackles for Schofield to hare in and Paul Cook to add the goal.

The sort of disaster that would have flattened many recent Leeds teams - like the ball that burst in the first half - came three minutes later, when Cook and Jim Fallon both made a mess of a Shaun Edwards kick and Martin Offiah sneaked in to equal his own record of scoring tries in 11 consecutive league games.

A Henry Paul conversion and a drop goal from Martin Hall put Wigan five points ahead, but Leeds refused to be deflated. Schofield's combination with George Mann, a key factor all night, produced a clever pass to send in the substitute, Alan Tait, soon after his arrival.

Then Schofield used Tony Kemp as a staging post to release Mann again, the Tongan World Cup forward going in and Cook putting his kick over. Cook made it safe for Leeds when he took a deft pass from Craig Innes to score in the corner and then converted from the touchline.

The sin-binning of Lowes for deliberate offside and a Hall try that was disallowed kept Leeds on their toes to the end, but Schofield landed a drop goal in injury time to crown one of the club's best performances of recent seasons.

Leeds: Cook, Fallon, Iro, Innes, Cummins (Tait, 55), Kemp, Schofield, Harmon, Shaw, McDermott (Fozzard, 27), Lowes, Mann, Mercer (Forshaw, 55).

Wigan: Radlinski, Robinson, Tuigamala, Connolly, Offiah, Paul, Edwards, Skerrett (Quinnell, 32, Hall, O'Connor (Mather, 60), Haughton, Cassidy, Farrell.

Referee: R Smith (Castleford).