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Leeds Rhinos 6-26 Wigan Warriors

Leeds (6) 6
Tries: Sinfield Goals: Sinfield

Wigan (8) 26
Tries: Goulding, J Tomkins, Carmont, Gleeson
Goals: Richards 5

Wigan
Wigan's jubilant players celebrate after reaching a first Grand Final since 2003

By Ged Scott
BBC Sport

Wigan ended Leeds' hopes of a fourth straight Super League title as they stunned the reigning champions to reach next Saturday night's Grand Final.

The league leaders looked to have blown their chances when they lost 27-26 at home to Leeds a fortnight ago.

But tries from Darrell Goulding, Joel Tomkins and George Carmont either side of the break earned revenge.

And, with another by Martin Gleeson to ice the cake, Wigan's superb defending set up their dream date with St Helens.

Kevin Sinfield's converted first-half try proved in vain as Leeds were simply outbattled by a hungrier Wigan side, who deservedly reached their Grand Final since 2003.

Leeds were the losers when the Warriors claimed their only previous Super League title, Jason Robinson scoring the winning try when they beat the Rhinos 10-4 at Old Trafford in 1998.

But, after three successive St Helens-Leeds Grand Finals, instead it will be Michael Maguire's Wigan who get a crack at their old rivals next Saturday night - and that sets up a repeat of the 2000 final when Saints beat Wigan 29-16.

Australian Maguire will lead his team out at Old Trafford at the end of his first season in Super League hoping they can end lose their nearly-men tag after falling at the penultimate hurdle in each of the three previous years.

Kevin Sinfield in action for Leeds
Kevin Sinfield's first-half try proved in vain as Leeds' reign came to an end

Leeds had loose forward Jamie Jones-Buchanan making his first start since his foot injury in the Challenge Cup final, while prop Ryan Bailey, injured in the 27-26 win at Wigan a fortnight ago, also returned.

Wigan also had Paul Deacon returning after he too picked up an injury, a bruised hip, in that controversial first play-off meeting at the DW Stadium, enabling Sean O'Loughlin to revert to loose forward.

And Wigan lynchpin Sam Tomkins was fit to continue at full-back after suffering a dislocated finger in last Friday night's 42-18 win against Hull KR which booked the Warriors' passage to Headingley.

But, perhaps most crucially, Leeds playmaker Danny McGuire was missing after being injured in the dramatic climax that night at the DW Stadium, and in his absence Sinfield switched to stand-off.

That proved a key factor when, three minutes after Richards had booted Wigan ahead with a penalty, Sinfield was on hand to run in the opening try.

A suggestion that Danny Buderus might have stolen the ball in the tackle went unnoticed - and Sinfield threw a superb dummy to register only his fourth try of the season.

Sinfield converted his own try for a 6-2 lead - but the game turned with three Wigan tries in 10 minutes either side of the break.

After one near miss moments earlier, Goulding levelled the scores with his 26th try of the season four minutes before the break.

With Leeds winger Scott Donald wrong-footed by an awkwardly-bouncing loose pass, the Wigan flier burst his way over from 10 yards out.

Richards duly added the extras for an 8-6 half-time lead and, within six minutes of the restart, Wigan had added two more scruffy, but priceless scores.

Just a minute into the second half, Deacon's looping high kick proved too awkward for Donald to deal with as the ball ran loose.

But a juggling Joel Tomkins managed to gain control of the ball, the big forward crashing over to send Wigan crucially two scores clear at 14-6.

Pat Richards
Prolific Pat Richards has now run in 32 tries and kicked 165 goals this season

Five minutes later, it looked as if Michael McIlorum might have lost control in the tackle, the ball ran loose and Carmont strolled in to score almost apologetically.

But it went upstairs to the video referee, Ali Lauititii was adjudged to have stolen the ball and the softest of tries was allowed.

From then on, Leeds threw the kitchen sink at Maguire's men in an increasingly desperate bid to respond.

But the Warriors' defence was magnificent and, this time, Leeds' luck was out.

That was rubber-stamped in the closing moments when, in direct contrast to how the late drama unfolded in the Rhinos' favour at the DW Stadium, this time it went Wigan's way.

First, Buderus had an apparently legitimate try under the posts ruled out by a sharp-eyed touch-judge four minutes from time.

Wigan then went up the other end for Gleeson to rub the Rhinos' noses in it with a victory-sealing score.

That gave Richards the chance to score with the final kick of the match - just as he failed to do under such intense pressure a fortnight ago, and this time he was successful to take his haul on the night to five out of five, 165 kicks for the season and an overall haul of 458 points.


Leeds coach Brian McClennan:

"We came out a little laboured at the start of the second half and Wigan caught us on the hop.

"They got that quick try after half-time and then another straight after. Other than that we were pretty even stevens and it was a ding-dong battle.

"I don't think the scoreline was a fair reflection of the match but you've got to credit the Wigan defence.

"We've had a lot of adversity this year and, although we never stopped trying, our best just wasn't quite good enough tonight."

Wigan coach Michael Maguire:

"It's a great feeling in the camp. I'm very proud of the boys for the way they worked for each other, particularly in the second half.

"They made sure they covered each other's back and it showed in the scoreline.

"Leeds are a team that never go away but our players were prepared to get off the ground and work hard.

"There are a lot of things in both attack and defence that I've tried to bring to the team but our defence is something we're proud of."


Leeds: Webb, Donald, Delaney, Senior, Hall, Sinfield, Burrow, Leuluai, Buderus, Bailey, Kirke, Ablett, Jones-Buchanan.
Replacements: Lauitiiti, Diskin, Eastwood, Clarkson.

Wigan: S Tomkins, Goulding, Gleeson, Carmont, Richards, Deacon, Leuluai, Fielden, Riddell, Coley, Hansen, J Tomkins, O'Loughlin.
Replacements: Paleaaesina, Prescott, Farrell, McIlorum.

Referee: Richard Silverwood (Dewsbury).

Attendance: 13,693.



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see also
Wigan 42-18 Hull KR
17 Sep 10 |  Rugby League
Wigan 26-27 Leeds
12 Sep 10 |  My Club
Super League play-off verdict
11 Sep 10 |  My Club
Leeds 12-26 Wigan
30 Jul 10 |  My Club
Leeds 12-10 Wigan
29 May 10 |  Rugby League
Wigan 24-4 Leeds
26 Mar 10 |  My Club
Rugby League on the BBC
15 Oct 10 |  Rugby League
Rugby league commentaries
03 Apr 10 |  Rugby League


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