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Leeds Rhinos

2017 Super League Champions

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Wigan Warriors 23 Leeds Rhinos 32

4th July 2008

By Leeds Rhinos

A brave second half fightback by the Rhinos could not prevent them from slipping to a 23-22 defeat at JJB Stadium. The Rhinos seemed to be heading for a heavy defeat when they trailed 23-6 with only 20 minutes remaining however they fought back with three tries and could have snatched victory in the last second when Rob Burrow's penalty attempt drifted to the left of the posts. The Champions welcomed back their six England stars for a trip across the Pennines to face a Wigan side that defeated the Rhinos home and away last season and inflicted the first defeat of the season on Brian McClennan's side this season. However, the Rhinos knocked Wigan out of the Carnegie Challenge Cup and defeated Brian Noble's side in the Grand Final Eliminator last season so the games was evenly poised. The Rhinos were dealt a blow before kick off when Danny Williams was ruled out with a back injury that had flared up on the bus ride over from Headingley Carnegie. Lee Smith, who had trained with the Reserve Academy earlier in the day, was drafted into the squad.

It got worse for Leeds as they conceded inside the first minute. Gareth Hock managed to offload on his own 20 metre line to Pat Richards, he held off the tackle of Sinfield before racing clear up field before passing to Thomas Leuluai. The half back was halted by Danny McGuire and Ryan Hall but Trent Barrett sensed an opportunity and chipped through for Cameron Phelps to score. Richards added the conversion to make it 6-0. Leeds looked to settle into their stride after that and had a good attack that ended when Jamie Peacock was unable to take in a short pass near the line. The Rhinos were left to rue that missed opportunity when they handed over possession deep in their own half when Jamie Jones-Buchanan knocked on. Three tackles later, the ball was fed wide and Phelps just got over in the corner under pressure from McGuire. Richards pushed his conversion wide so it remained 10-0. With the Rhinos keen to make amends, tempers began to fray as Peaccck and Fielden went head to head. There was plenty of talk between the two former team mates and referee Ashley Klein look to take the sting out of the incident by penalising the Rhinos three times in the next set. The last infringements offered Richards the chance to extend his side's lead and he duly kicked the penalty to make it 12-0 after 14 minutes. The Rhinos were denied their opening try after 17 minutes when video ref Steve Ganson spotted that Ryan Hall had put his foot in touch before grounding the ball in the corner. The chance had come from a great run by Senior but still the Rhinos remained without a score. Leeds had another great chance after 24 minutes when Donald broke down the touchline before offloading to McGuire. The England international chipped over the defence and raced through but was just denied a try by Fielden, who managed to knock the ball dead. The visitors were getting increasingly frustrated by their missed opportunities and it got worse with nine minutes remaining in the half when sub Liam Colbon rose above three Leeds defenders to score his side's third try. Richards was off target with his conversion attempt but the home side now led 16-0. Leeds managed to force a repeat set by penning Calderwood in his in goal and then got head and feed at a scrum on the last tackle when Colbon kicked the ball in to touch. However, even with 18 tackles at their disposal, the Rhinos could not find a way through as the frustration mounted. To rub salt into the wound, Richards extended the home side's lead with a drop goal with a minute left in the half to make it 17-0 at the break.

WP – Home MPU

Leeds came out determined to make amends at the start of the second half and it looked as if they had after four minutes when Matt Diskin was quickest to react to a loose ball however replays showed that he had knocked the ball on out of Thomas Leuluai's hand and the chance was gone. The Rhinos needed something special to lift them and it came in the shape of Rob Burrow. The England scrum half took the ball 15 metres from his own line and then set about on beating half the Wigan side on his way upfield. He was just stopped short by Calderwood, but had the presence of mind to pass back inside to the supporting run of McGuire, who crossed for his 12th try of the season. Sinfield added the conversion to make it 17-6 after 50 minutes. However, four minutes later it looked like Wigan would be for their fourth try but a brilliant cover tackle by Ryan Hall denied them. As it was, Richards did extend the lead with a penalty to crucially stretch the home side's lead to 19-6, leaving the Rhinos to score at least three times to take the lead. The next try was always going to be crucial and it was the home side who got it. Kylie Leuluai lost possession inside his own half and from the ensuing scrum, Darrell Goulding powered out of the tackle of Scott Donald to stretch out and score. Richards missed the conversion but the Warriors now had a commanding 23-6 lead with 20 minutes remaining. Leeds struck back two minutes later after a good spell of pressure on the Wigan line. The Rhinos got a scrum ten metres from the Wigan line and spread the ball wide quickly, McGuire threw a dummy before passing to Hall to score in the corner. Sinfield's conversion attempt went wide so the Rhinos still trailed 23-10. The Rhinos sensed an opportunity though and hit straight back with another score. McGuire made a lightening break down the right hand side but was just stopped short by Richards. Burrow then took control as he kicked to the corner and Donald had the skill to knock the ball down to Senior, who dived on the loose ball to score. Sinfield added the near touchline conversion to make it 23-16 with 16 minutes to go. The impossible looked possible with six minutes to go though when Gareth Ellis crossed for another try for the Rhinos. The chance came from a bullocking run by Ali Lauitiiti. He had the ball ripped from his grasp as he burst forward but regathered in his stride. The ball then came back to McGuire, who threw a wide pass to Ellis. The centre regathered after the bounce to score. Burrow had taken over the kicking with Kevin Sinfield having left play injured and coolly added the conversion to make it 23-22 to the Warriors. The drama was not finished yet when Ashley Klein awarded the Rhinos a penalty with 30 seconds left for interference at the play the ball. Burrow once again stepped up but his attempt drifted to the left of the posts and the Rhinos fell just short of an incredible come back. 

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