The game they had marketed as "The Big One" produced a big result for Wigan, as they got over a sloppy first half-hour to dominate the rest of the evening and narrow the gap between them and the top four.
An outstanding contribution from the Tomkins brothers was pivotal for the Warriors, but, from such an unpromising beginning, this was essentially a victory for the collective grit and determination Wigan have been showing in recent weeks.
"They were all over us in the first half, but boy did we respond," said the Wigan coach, Brian Noble. "This is a team that has been criticised this season, but they are answering everybody's criticism."
Wigan lived dangerously from the start, only surviving an error-ridden first quarter with some scrambling defence. Something had to give, however, and when it did, it happened twice in quick succession. Danny Buderus was the instigator on both occasions, working relentlessly on Wigan's weakness in marker defence.
When Buderus made a clean break out of dummy-half, Rob Burrow was there in support and found Danny McGuire perfectly. Four minutes later, Buderus chose to pass rather than run as the Rhinos exploited the blind side, but it was an excellent pass from the latest member of a distinguished Fijian rugby family, Mike Ratu, that put Scott Donald over in the corner.
The game was in danger of running away from Wigan, but Cameron Phelps found some space and gave George Carmont the chance to get over the try-line. Pat Richards' conversion made it a mere four-point gap, which took some believing on the balance of play. Early in the second half, they even went ahead, Harrison Hansen reaching a loose ball just before it could run dead.
Suddenly, it was Wigan who were consistently the more threatening side. A couple of penalties helped them ratchet up the pressure and the other Tomkins brother, Joel, crashed over from Mark Riddell's pass.
Pat Richards' conversion made it an eight-point gap and Leeds were further hampered when Buderus left the field on a stretcher. Richards and Thomas Leuluai then ripped the Rhinos apart on the counter-attack.
Wigan: Phelps; Roberts, Gleeson, Carmont, Richards; S Tomkins, T Leuluai; Prescott, Riddell, Coley, Hansen, J Tomkins, Flanagan. Substitutes used: Fielden, Paleaaesina, Goulding, Mossop.
Leeds: Smith; Donald, Ratu, Senior, Hall; McGuire,Burrow; K Leuluai, Buderus, Peacock, Jones-Buchanan, Ablett, Sinfield. Substitutes used: Burgess, Diskin, Worrall, Lauitiiti.
Referee: P Bentham (Warrington).Reuse content