Rugby League: Harris has magic touch for Leeds

Leeds Rhinos 28 Wigan Warriors 22
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The Independent Online
LEEDS BEAT Wigan for the third time in four attempts this season to make themselves hot favourites for third place in the Super League and the two bites at the cherry it will give them in the play-off series.

Although there was never much to choose between the teams, Leeds, expertly marshalled by Iestyn Harris, always had a little too much firepower on the night. It would be no surprise if the teams met again on the way to Old Trafford and it would be a brave man who would bet too heavily on the outcome.

The first half was full of the ebb and flow we have come to expect from contests between these rivals. Wigan, with Andrew Farrell switched to stand-off for the injured Tony Smith, made the early running, with Denis Betts having a try disallowed before Farrell sent Mick Cassidy striding through powerfully for Paul Johnson to finish and Farrell to add the goal.

Wigan's tackling failed them for the first time when young Kevin Sinfield, one of the reserves brought into the Leeds pack, moved the ball beautifully for Francis Cummins to go over, but the visitors seemed to have the rub of the green when awarded the next try on the evidence of the video.

Betts appeared to have pulled back Harris as he tried to mop up Farrell's low kick, but Jason Robinson was allowed to pick up and score. If Leeds felt hard done by, they took advantage of two Wigan errors to take the lead before half-time.

First Farrell threw an over- ambitious pass towards the left wing, where it was picked off for a 90-yard interception try by Leroy Rivett. Two minutes before the break, Neil Cowie squandered possession and from the scrum Harris sold the dummy and also kicked his second goal.

Although Betts was denied a try by Harris' cover tackle, it was Leeds who applied the pressure in the second half. It told for them when, on the second set of six tackles, Ryan Sheridan opened play out for Andy Hay, and Brad Godden forced his way in for Harris to make it a 10-point lead.

Time seemed to be running out for Wigan when Danny Moore picked up Gavin Clinch's pass off his bootlaces and found Clinch running around to take the return to score.

Leeds could have pottered, but instead Harris constructed a try of pure class for Sheridan, and Moore's reply for Wigan two minutes from time came too late.

Leeds Rhinos: Harris; Rivett, Cummins, Godden, Sterling; Powell, Sheridan; Masella, Speak, McDermott, Hay, Sinfield, Glanville. Substitutes used: Walker, Jackson, Fleary, Jones-Buchanan.

Wigan Warriors: Davies; Robinson, Connolly, Johnson, Moore; Farrell, Clinch; Cowie, M Smith, O'Connor, Betts, Cassidy, Gilmour. Substitutes used: Goldspink, Mestrov, Haughton, Chester.

Referee: S Presley (Castleford).