In a challenging afternoon at Headingley, the Leeds Rhinos suffered a defeat against the Wigan Warriors with a scoreline of 50-0.
Winger Ash Handley rejoined the squad after being absent from the previous week’s match in Hull. Morgan Gannon also secured a spot in the starting lineup, following his minutes off the bench against Huddersfield and Hull FC since recovering from his injury. The only change on the bench was Corey Johnson, who was joined by James Donaldson, Leon Ruan, and Sam Lisone, the latter of whom secured three tries against the opposing team.
As the sun bathed Headingley in its glow, the intensity heightened when both teams entered the stadium to the uproar from the South Stand. Wigan’s strategy of executing deep kicks to turn the Rhinos around yielded early success. However, it seemed that the home team would break through with Harry Newman. A flawed pass from the Warriors was mishandled by Kai Pearce-Paul, giving Newman a clear path to the try line. The decision was referred to the video referee, Liam Moore, who determined that Jack Sinfield had touched the ball out of Pearce-Paul’s grasp, resulting in the disallowed try.
Following a high tackle from the Rhinos, Wigan secured their first try courtesy of Jake Wardle. As they approached the final tackle of their set, Smith’s cross-field kick eluded Martin, and Wardle was on hand to seize it and score.
Jai Field also made his mark on the score sheet as the Rhinos struggled to deal with another cross-field kick, allowing the full-back to pounce on the loose ball in the in-goal area.
Leeds valiantly withstood the relentless pressure on their try line, but two more tries from Wigan before half-time extended their lead to 22 points. In the dying minutes, despite Leeds’ efforts to keep Bevan French at bay, a swift lateral movement across the field saw Wardle and Liam Marshall combine, resulting in the winger crossing over in the corner. Wardle secured his second of the afternoon as the clock ran down, executing a designed scrum play that powered him over the line. Harry Smith successfully converted three out of four conversions, leaving the Cherry and Whites with a 22-0 lead at half-time.
The second half got off to a nightmarish start as Hooley’s kick was blocked by Morgan Smithies. Smithies swiftly recovered, passing the ball to Pearce-Paul, who scored under the posts.
For a brief ten-minute period, the Rhinos rallied with commendable efforts, but were unable to capitalise on the scoreboard. Handley’s half-break positioned Leeds well in the field, and Corey Johnson’s entry saw the hooker feed James Donaldson for a try. However, referee Jack Smith halted play, citing a forward pass.
Several opportunities fell short, with Newman and Handley orchestrating plays that brought Walters tantalisingly close to the try line, only for him to fumble under pressure from Junior Nsemba. Wigan retaliated, as Wardle completed his hat-trick following a flowing move.
Three tries in the final ten minutes sealed the game for the Warriors, as they secured two league points. A late hit on French by Walters allowed the Warriors’ half-back to set up Abbas Miski on a powerful run against the grain, resulting in a winger’s score. Liam Farrell added to the points tally with a try five minutes before the end.
Patrick Mago and Nsemba executed passes for the prop to ground the ball beneath the posts, concluding a disheartening afternoon for the Rhinos.