Wigan defeated in Play-Off Semi-Final

Wigan defeated in Play-Off Semi-Final

Result from the DW Stadium

Wigan Warriors 12

T - Hansen, Richards

G - Richards 2

Leeds Rhinos 13

T - Watkins

G - Sinfield 4

DG - Sinfield

Match report

Wigan’s Grand Final dream was fatally crushed in the dying moments of a superb semi-final as Leeds won 12-13.

Young fullback, Jack Murphy, in only his second first team start, was unfortunate to spill a high kick in the slippery conditions three minutes from time to put Leeds in position before a penalty conceded by Liam Farrell was kicked by Kevin Sinfield to send Leeds to a second straight Grand Final from fifth spot.

The Warriors had trailed 0-11 after a clinical first half from the Rhinos where tactical kicking from Sinfield contributed to a huge advantage in the territorial battle but came alive after half time to lead 12-11 on the hour until the final moments.

Wigan looked to be pressing for the opening score of the game but Brett Finch’s pass just a few yards out didn’t find its target and Kallum Watkins raced clear to cover the length of the pitch and score.

The defending champions were able to set-up camp in the Wigan half of the field and extended their lead with a Kevin Sinfield penalty when Harrison Hansen was penalised 20 metres out for using his knee in the tackle.

The trend continued as Leeds coupled granite defence with clever tactical kicks to keep Wigan pegged in their own half. Two minutes later, it could’ve become much worse for the Warriors as on a rare occasion the ball was in the Rhinos’ half, Sinfield nailed a 40-20 kick to put Leeds in a scoring position. They did come away with points, but it was in the form of another two from Sinfield’s boot, conceded as Finch was far too keen in racing out of the line and was caught offside.

The Warriors did try to put some sweeping plays together, and determined running from Murphy, who was left returning deep kicks for most of the half, should not go unnoticed, but the set moves lacked the spark to set the DW Stadium alight, illustrated by a move on 28 minutes which failed to stick at the final pass to Pat Richards.

Sinfield directed most of his attacking kicks to Josh Charnley, which the 2012 top try scorer dealt with with well but the efficient chase each time ensured his attacking options were thwarted once the ball was in hand. After another tough set on the half hour, tired-looking tackle attempts failed to stop Zak Hardaker as he found useful yards for his team to put Sinfield in a position to nudge over what proved to be a vital drop-goal to take the score to 0-11.

The Warriors had to come alive in the second half and when Ben Jones Bishop made a hash of the kick off to a cheer from the home crowd it looked as if the start couldn’t have gone better, but Richard Silverwood ruled the ball had gone backwards and Wigan once again had to cope with Sinfield drilling a kick into touch in Wigan territory.

The trend was set to shift though as Sean O’Loughlin made a break to give Wigan vital yards before Tommy Leuluai flung a sharp ball to Harrison Hansen to finally get Wigan’s account up and running.

With new-found energy, strong runs from Epalahame Lauaki and stern tackling boosted Wigan until Murphy couldn’t take a high kick on his own line to pile more pressure on the home side. As a result, Rob Burrow managed to sneak in and appeared to have restored Leeds’ advantage but Silverwood referred it to the video referee which showed Burrow lost the ball. The decision stirred Leeds into aggressive defence but Wigan managed to find a way upfield before Gareth Hock was held-up and a series of errors from Leeds put Wigan in positions to strike.

The chance was capitalised with 20 minutes to go when Richards slid over in the corner and the Rhinos were almost left to rue electing to go for goal with the two penalties early on when Richards nailed the touchline conversion.

This set-up a tense final quarter with numerous threats to both try lines until the horribly tense moments which led to the demise of Wigan’s campaign when Sinfield sent the Rhinos into raptures.

Team News 

Wigan Warriors - Jack Murphy, Josh Charnley, Darrell Goulding, George Carmont, Pat Richards, Brett Finch, Thomas Leuluai, Jeff Lima, Sean O’Loughlin, Lee Mossop, Harrison Hansen, Gareth Hock, Liam Farrell

Replacements - Epalahame Lauaki, Matty Smith, Ben Flower, Jack Hughes

Leeds Rhinos - Zak Hardaker, Ben Jones-Bishop, Kallum Watkins, Carl Ablett, Ryan Hall, Kevin Sinfield, Rob Burrow, Kylie Leuluai, Shaun Lunt, Jamie Peacock, Jamie Jones-Buchanan, Brett Delaney, Ryan Bailey

Replacements - Ian Kirke, Chris Clarkson, Darrell Griffin, Steve Ward

Referee - Richard Silverwood

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