Super League: Wigan climb to seventh with hard-fought 23-14 win over Leeds at Headingley
|Betfred Super League|
|Leeds (8) 14|
|Tries: Cuthbertson, Merrin Goals: Sutcliffe 2, Lolohea|
|Wigan (11) 23|
|Tries: Gildart, Partington, Clubb Goals: Hankinson 5; Drop Goals: Powell|
Reigning champions Wigan completed a Super League double over Leeds as they hung on to win a hard-fought tussle.
After a Leeds penalty, Oliver Gildart's stunning first-half try, three Chris Hankinson kicks and Sam Powell's drop goal helped Wigan lead, only for Adam Cuthbertson to narrow the gap to 11-8.
Trent Merrin's converted try, improved by Liam Sutcliffe's second successful kick, put Leeds back in front.
But Oliver Partington's first Wigan try was followed by Tony Clubb's clincher.
After substitute forward Partington came up with the all-important score on the hour when he went over for his first Super League score, Leeds went close to winning it late on themselves.
Prop Ava Seumanufagai got over the line only to be held up and Merrin, scenting a second try, lost his grip on the ball as he forced his way over.
But, instead it was powerful Wigan prop Clubb who galloped over in the last play in the right corner.
TV evidence suggested that he had lost control and it should actually have been chalked off, but it had not been referred upstairs and still counted.
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Centre Hankinson kicked his fifth goal from as many attempts as a successful replacement for injured Leeds old boy Zak Hardaker, further justifying Wigan coach Adrian Lam's to play him at centre to mark danger man Konrad Hurrell, while Dan Sarginson was preferred to Morgan Escare at full-back.
Leeds' other two points came from the conversion to Merrin's try by Tui Lolohea, who took over kicking duties when Sutcliffe was forced off for a concussion assessment.
Wigan scored six tries to win this season's first meeting 34-16 back at the DW Stadium in February.
This one, their second straight win, lifts them to seventh, now within four points of the top four after a difficult season.
Leeds remain 10th, two points off the bottom and four points adrift of safety - and now about to lose a key man in Kallum Watkins too.
Leeds interim head coach Richard Agar:
"In the first half, apart from one blip, we held up defensively very well.
"I thought we would get opportunities in the second half to win the game and we did.
"We had enough possession but just couldn't find the killer punch and we came up with some pretty poor kick finishes.
"You've got to give credit to Wigan. Defensively, they were pretty strong."
Wigan coach Adrian Lam:
"It's a really important win. There was a fair bit of pressure on us and the players understood that. We knew it would go down to the wire so we prepped for that.
"I'm pretty proud of the team. To be able to win these tight games at this time of the year is credit to the players.
"The first half, bar the last error, was probably our best of the season. It was more like the team we wanted to be.
"Morgan Escare should have been in there but we needed a goalkicker and Chris Hankinson is probably our best one-on-one defender as well."
Leeds: Lolohea; Handley, Hurrell, Newman, Briscoe; Sutcliffe, Myler; Singleton, Dwyer, Seumanufagai, Watkins, Ferres, Merrin.
Interchanges: Smith, Donaldson, Cuthbertson, Oledzki.
Wigan: Sarginson; Marshall, Hankinson, Gildart, Burgess; Williams, Leuluai; Navarrete, Powell, Clubb, Isa, Farrell, O'Loughlin.
Interchanges: Bullock, Partington, Sammut, Smithies.
Referee: Chris Kendall.