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Page last updated at 20:55 GMT, Friday, 26 September 2008 21:55 UK

Leeds 18-14 Wigan

Leeds (6) 18
Tries: Smith 2, Senior Goals: Sinfield 3
Wigan (2) 14
Tries: Hansen, Paleaaesina Goals: Richards 3


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Highlights: Leeds 18-14 Wigan

Two tries from Lee Smith saw Leeds book their place in the Grand Final against St Helens after a bruising victory over Wigan in the final eliminator.

The winger scored his first in the 35th minute after good work from Rob Burrow to put Leeds 6-2 ahead at half-time.

Keith Senior extended the lead after the restart, but Wigan hit back in the 74th minute through Harrison Hansen.

Smith pounced on a Wigan mistake on 77 minutes for his second before Iafeta Paleaaesina's try ensured a tense end.

The prop's late score gave Wigan one minute to race down the other end of the pitch from the re-start, but their Grand Final hopes were shattered when veteran forward Stuart Fielden knocked-on attempting to catch Kevin Sinfield's restart.

It was a cruel way to end a thoroughly entertaining - and feisty - encounter, which finished once again in Leeds' favour.

The Yorkshire side had beaten the Cherry and Whites 36-6 in the 2007 final eliminator - but this year's encounter was not a one-way affair.

A vibrant opening 15 minutes saw both teams exchange a series of crunching tackles as neither side could dictate the tempo and flow of play.

606: DEBATE
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A brilliant 80 metre run from Jamie Jones-Buchanan eventually resulted in Leeds taking the lead, but not before a 20-man brawl broke out.

Camped deep inside his own half, the mohican-haired second row burst through Wigan's defence, but was hauled down just short of the opposition tryline by a desperate tackle from Mark Calderwood.

With his team's defence in disarray, Calderwood interfered with Jones-Buchanan's play-the-ball as he looked to spread the ball.

However, his cynical tactics were not appreciated by the onrushing Leeds players, with Senior firing off a series of punches in the resulting melee.

Referee Steve Ganson quickly diffused the ruckus, sin-binning both Calderwood and Senior, while Sinfield kicked the first points of the match with a simple penalty in front of the posts.

Wigan soon regained parity when Gareth Ellis was penalised for a high tackle on Gareth Hock inside Leeds' 20m line, giving Pat Richards a simple kick on 30 minutes.

But Leeds capitalised on a sharp run from scrum-half Burrow - his first real break of the game on 35 minutes - with the ball recycled by Sinfield and McGuire into the hands of winger Lee Smith for his 10th try of the season.

Sinfield just failed to add the extras as Leeds took a four-point lead into the half-time interval.

Brian McClennan's half-time team-talk had its desired effect as a rejuvenated Leeds began aggressively, but were single-handedly denied by the defensive brilliance of Calderwood.

The winger thwarted Senior, Jones-Buchanan and Burrow in the space of 12 minutes, each time pulling out a brilliant tackle when Leeds looked certain to add to their tally.

The home side's frustrations were further compounded on 55 minutes by a controversial call from video referee Ian Smith, who adjudged Jamie Peacock to have been held up inside Wigan's in-goal area by full-back Richie Mathers. The official took more than five minutes to make his ruling.

But despite their audible protestations, Leeds fans were soon celebrating their second try when Ali Lauitiiti's aerial pass was brilliantly batted down by Scott Donald into the path of Senior, who somehow found a way beyond the resilience of Calderwood.

Sinfield, who missed the extras, extended the lead to 12 points with a penalty in the 67th minute.

Wigan refused to surrender and Hansen's surge in the final five minutes gave the travelling contingent extra voice, although their Grand Final dreams looked to have faded when Smith raced through for his second touchdown on 77 minutes after a handling error.

Paleaaesina's late score set up a dramatic finale in the final minute before Fielden's elementary mistake ensured the Old Trafford showpiece will be a repeat of the 2007 final.


Leeds: Webb, Smith, Ablett, Ablett, Senior, Donald, McGuire, Burrow, Leuluai, Diskin, Peacock, Jones-Buchanan, Ellis, Sinfield, Lauitiiti, Bailey, Scruton, Scruton, Kirke.

Replacements: Kirke for Ablett (34), Peacock for Ablett (76), Scruton for Leuluai (15), Jones-Buchanan for Diskin (50), Scruton for Peacock (66), Lauitiiti for Jones-Buchanan (32), Diskin for Lauitiiti (63), Kirke for Bailey (76), Bailey for Scruton (54), Leuluai for Scruton (79), Ablett for Kirke (55).

Sin Bin: Senior (22).

Wigan: Mathers, Calderwood, Phelps, Carmont, Richards, Barrett, Leuluai, Fielden, Higham, Coley, Coley, Hansen, Bailey, J. Tomkins, Paleaaesina, Smith, Hock, Colbon.

Replacements: Higham for Leuluai (54), Coley for Fielden (36), Smith for Higham (30), Paleaaesina for Coley (15), J. Tomkins for Coley (52), Colbon for Hansen (47), Paleaaesina for Bailey (70), Hock for J. Tomkins (23), Fielden for Paleaaesina (48), Leuluai for Smith (70), Hansen for Hock (56), Hock for Colbon (72).

Sin Bin: Calderwood (21).

Att: 13,112

Ref: S Ganson (St Helens).



see also
Leeds v Wigan photos
27 Sep 08 |  Rugby League
Catalans 26-50 Wigan
20 Sep 08 |  Rugby League
Leeds stunned after play-off loss
19 Sep 08 |  Rugby League
St Helens 38-10 Leeds
19 Sep 08 |  Rugby League


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