RUGBY LEAGUE: Cummins ends the frustration

Wigan 8 Leeds 15
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The Independent Online
TWO MORE tries from Super League's leading scorer, Francis Cummins, both constructed by Iestyn Harris, steered Leeds towards their first double over Wigan since 1980 and their first win at Central Park since 1991.

Many of the frustrations built up over almost 20 years fell away last night as Leeds closed Wigan's lead at the top of the table to two points at the end of a ferocious contest that left even those in the safety of the stands feeling bruised and battered.

Few meetings between these sides over the years have had such an explosive start, with Robbie McCormack, the Wigan hooker, becoming the first of three players to be taken off for treatment after tackles when Adrian Morley flattened him in the first minute of the match, the Leeds second row getting himself placed on report in the process.

Wigan also lost their Australian centre Danny Moore, crunched equally effectively by Darren Fleary, before Leeds' frantic early pressure brought them the lead through a Harris drop goal.

Morley, who had earlier gone close to creating the first try with a surging run from Henry Paul's fumble, was the next casualty of a savage affair.

Running the ball back from a drop out he was poleaxed by what looked like a raised elbow from Mick Cassidy. After an indecent delay, Cassidy was also placed on report and Leeds were awarded a penalty which Harris converted.

It was still a modest lead considering Leeds' domination. Their sheer vigour forced Wigan into the most uncharacteristic of mistakes, such as Kris Radlinski knocking-on near his own line, but somehow the Super League leaders escaped further damage.

Wigan pegged back part of their deficit early in the second half when Anthony Farrell was penalised for holding down Paul and his namesake Andy landed a kick that was advanced by 10 yards for dissent.

But the try the game had threatened came five minutes later, Harris kicking a chip towards the corner, Cummins out-jumping Jason Robinson and, after consultation with the video referee, being awarded the touchdown as he scrambled on to the loose ball.

A piece of instinctive brilliance from Harris paved the way for Cummins' second try. With Wigan hanging back waiting for him to kick on the last tackle, Harris exploited the space to fling a long pass and release his wingman.

Wigan's Lee Gilmour narrowly failed to touch down in the corner before Simon Haughton at last claimed a try for the home side six minutes from time with a breathtaking 40-yard gallop.

Anthony Farrell's kick from the touchline cut the gap to three points but Brad Godden's strength brought the third and clinching Leeds try and ensured that there would be no late blunder to throw away what had been so hard-earned.

For Godden and his coach, Graham Muray, it was a pleasant case of deja vu after both were involved in the Hunter Mariners' win at Central Park a year ago, but for everyone at the Leeds club this will rank among their favourite memories.

Wigan: Radlinski; Bell, Connolly, Moore, Robinson; Paul, Smith; Cowie, McCormack, Mestrov, Cassidy, Haughton, Andy Farrell, Substitutes used: Johnson, Gilmour, Clarke, O'Connor.

Leeds: Harris; Sterling, Blackmore, Godden, Cummins; Powell, Sheridan; Masella, Newton, Fleary, Morley, Anthony Farrell, Glanville. Substitutes used: Holroyd, Mathiou, St Hilaire, Hay.

Referee: S Cummings (Widnes).