Rugby League: Wigan's counter points

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The Independent Online
Leeds 12 Wigan 26

TWO TRIES apiece for Paul Johnson and Mick Cassidy helped Wigan to a victory that gives them the edge over their great rivals in Super League and goes some way towards making up for their defeat at Headingley in the Challenge Cup.

Wigan had to absorb a good deal of pressure and their ability to do so and then hit Leeds on the counterattack, exemplified by the long-range attacks that produced the two tries that clinched it, made them deserving winners.

Leeds, further below strength than their opponents, had the boost of taking the lead in the 12th minute. Ryan Sheridan's kick hit the padding around the post and reared up awkwardly at Kris Radlinski. The full-back could not handle it safely and Sheridan followed up to score, Iestyn Harris adding a comfortable conversion.

Wigan's response could not have been more immediate. The short kick off has been a welcome addition to the repertoire of many sides recently, but nobody does it better than Andy Farrell. Gary Connolly leapt to win this one and the ball went via Radlinski, Mick Cassidy and Mark Rever to Lee Gilmour who, once shown the gap, strode the remaining 40 yards, Farrell equalising with his kick.

It was high quality sparring after that, with a threatening run from Greg Florimo at one end and one from Leroy Rivett, heading for the other. The deadlock was broken with Farrell's beautiful pass to put Simon Haughton through a hole in Leeds' defence. It was the Wigan substitute's first touch of the ball and he did his job by serving it up for Paul Johnson to score.

Leeds thought they had at least equalised five minutes from half-time when Marvin Golden reached over the try line only to lose the ball in Danny Moore's tackle. But shortly before the break, Golden made no mistake, running on to Daryl Powell's pass for a try, again converted by Harris, although the Leeds captain missed a penalty with the last kick of the half after Florimo had gone high on Sheridan.

Leeds' advantage lasted just eight minutes before they conceded a try they will not much have enjoyed. Gilmour made inroads into their defensive line, but the tacklers should still have been well placed to stop Cassidy from dummy half. Instead, the Wigan hooker barrelled his way through and Farrell tagged on the goal.

In a crucial passage of play, Wigan kept Leeds at bay on their line for 12 tackles, before Johnson struck for his second try on the night and his most spectacular so far. Picking the ball up at dummy half, he beat Jamie Mathiou's tackle and held off Harris on a 90-yard sprint to the line, Farrell again contributing the extra points.

With five minutes to play, Jason Robinson raced out of his own 25, took a return pass from Radlinski and found Cassidy looping around to complete the move and a virtual landslide for Wigan.

Leeds: Harris; Sterling, Golden, Cummins, Rivett; Powell, Sheridan; Fleary, Jackson, McDermott, Hay, Newton, Glanville. Substitutes used: Masella, Pratt, Sinfield, Mathiou.

Wigan: Radlinski; Robinson, Moore, Connolly, P Johnson; Florimo, Reber, Cowie, Cassidy, O'Connor, Ball, Gilmour, Farrell. Substitutes used: Haughton, Davies, Mestrov, Goldspink.

Referee: R Smith (Castleford).

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