Rugby League: Wigan power to summit

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The Independent Online
Leeds. . .14

Wigan. . .26

LEEDS gave their all in a match of high quality at Headingley last night but could not do enough to block Wigan's return to the top of the First Division.

A combination of impressive energy and the shrewd kicking of Graham Holroyd gave Leeds more than their share of play in the opening quarter, when Wigan's threat was limited to two long breaks from Barrie-Jon Mather.

There were signs of the match tilting Wigan's way, however, before they took the lead with a wonderfully constructed try in the 22nd minute, Edwards' precise ball releasing Frano Botica, who dummied to the outside before sending Andy Farrell in with the delayed inside pass.

It was the first of three excellent converted tries within eight minutes, Leeds rapidly equalising when Martin Offiah was forced into touch and Francis Cummins did remarkably well to get his pass out of the tackle to Kevin Iro.

Another storming Mather run almost brought a second try for Wigan, but then Edwards' kick opened up the other flank of the Leeds' defence and Farrell and Gary Connolly put Offiah in at the corner.

Wigan lost Denis Betts with a broken collarbone after only 11 minutes on the pitch as a substitute and saw Holroyd reduce their lead before half-time with a penalty after Botica had gone high on Jim Fallon.

A minute into the second half Mather did what he had been threatening to do from the start, roaring down the right, showing the ball to Jason Robinson and cutting inside for another memorable try, again improved by Botica.

It was time for Leeds to show what they are made of and the answer is much sterner stuff than in the recent past. The gifted Holroyd created an opening with an imaginative pass to Alan Tait and another of the Leeds youngsters, Cummins, chimed in to score and leave Holroyd an easy conversion.

Wigan were under considerable pressure but a Botica penalty after Gary Rose had tackled Nigel Wright without the ball eased the situation.

All doubt was removed by the most extraordinary try of all, Edwards intercepting Marcus Vassilakopoulos' pass from the base of the scrum with nine minutes left to chalk up his 1,000th point for Wigan.

Leeds: Tait; Fallon, Iro, Cummins, Fawcett; Holroyd, Stephens (Vassilakopoulos, 55); Howard (O'Neill, 70), Lowes, Rose (Harmon, 28), O'Neill (Rose, 61), Eyers, Hanley. .

Wigan: Wright; Robinson, Mather, Connolly, Offiah; Botica, Edwards; Skerrett, Cassidy, Platt (Betts, 23; Platt, 34), Cowie (Gildart, 71), Farrell, Clarke. .

Referee: S Cummings (Widnes).

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