With neither team picking up a win in round one, both sides looked to improve as Wigan Warriors welcomed the Leeds Rhinos to the DW Stadium.
The Warriors stuck with the same 17 which faced St Helens with just Tony Clubb swapping places with Romain Navarette in the starting line-up. Zak Hardaker faced his former club as Wigan looked to make up their two point deduction.
Leeds on the other hand made one changes to the side that lost to Warrington with Nathaniel Peteru coming in for Adam Cuthbertson who dropped down to the bench entering the side in the place of Brad Singleton.
Leeds got off to a flyer after a mistake in defence from Tom Davies. The winger failed to collect a high ball under pressure from Konrad Hurrell and Ash Handley caught thee rebound and dived over inside the second minute. Tui Lolohea duly converted the try for an early lead.
The Rhinos lead lasted less than three minutes though as the Warriors took advantage of good field position following an error from Hurrell. A fifth tackle kick from George Williams floated high and Dan Sarginson rose above Kallum Watkins and score. Hardaker converted to level the scores.
Two quick penalties against the Warriors gave Leeds the chance to score again and after shifting the ball from left to right and Tom Briscoe offloaded to Lolohea who passed the ball to the barraging Brett Ferres who powered over the line. Lolohea was again successful with the boot to make it 6-12 after 15 minutes.
With twenty minutes gone, the Rhinos had restricted Wigan’s attack to over 30 metres from the try-line. However, when the Warriors were given a chance at the Leeds line they did managed to pull the scores closer once again.
After Ben Thaler missed a clear knock-on from Liam Farrell, a grubber kick from Thomas Leuluai rebounded off a Leeds defender and the ball bounced favourably into the hands of Ben Flower and the Welsh prop grounded the ball.
Hardaker failed with his conversion attempt, much to the delight of the travelling Leeds fans.
With both sides going toe-to-toe down the middle of the park, Dan Sarginson picked up an ankle knock in a tackle with Trent Merrin which delayed the game shortly.
However, it did not stop the Warriors momentum as the Rhinos were penalised for a marginally forward pass and marched down the field. George William with a perfectly waited kick behind the Rhinos line and Joe Greenwood followed up and beat Nathaniel Peteru to the ball to score. Hardaker made it two out of three from the boot to give them a four point lead.
Wigan then scored their third try in nine minutes as Joe Bullock collected a short-ball and charged his way through three Rhinos defenders. Hardaker converted again to give them a ten-point lead.
Despite a couple of dubious calls from Ben Thaler, he did manage the game well after Sam Powell showed a bite mark on his arm, allegedly from Mikolaj Oledzki.
Leeds Rhinos would not let Wigan break their line once again though as Lolohea picked off George Williams pass to break 70 metres and set up Leeds just 15 metres from the Warriors line.
A repeat set was forced but Kallum Watkins pass to Tom Briscoe wasn’t gathered in by the winger and the home side were let of the hook.
That was all the action for the first-half and David Furner’s side had a lot to do in the second half.
Half-Time: Wigan Warriors 22-12 Leeds Rhinos
Dan Sarginson would not return for the Warriors in the second half but Wigan were looking to dominant physically and managed to win back-to-back-to-back sets. However, the Leeds defence held on strong to deny the home side.
The Rhinos managed to get through a tough defensive patch and Jack Walker managed to get his side deep into Wigan territory, winning a penalty after Liam Marshall hung around too long in the tackle.
Brett Ferres knocked on though and the Warriors were relieved.
Leeds were under pressure just a minute later as well. Jack Walker failed to gather George Williams high kick and the Rhinos set up 20 metres out. Williams knocked the ball on though and Lolohea broke down the field again.
This break set the platform for what should have been a well worked set from Leeds but Jack Walker panicked under pressure and his loose pass flew into touch.
The game was opening up in attack and Tom Davies broke inside the Leeds defence and was caught high by Ash Handley. Wigan chose to kick for goal and Hardaker slotted the ball straight through the uprights for a 12-point lead with just over an hour of the game gone.
Wigan then went straight back up the field and cross the try line once more. Leuluai’s high kick dropped behind Willie Isa, into Tom Davies, back off Isa, into Davies hands and the winger touch down. However, Isa was offside and the ball was turned over back to Leeds.
With Wigan in the ascendancy, Konrad Hurrell showed that Leeds were not going to lie down, absolutely clattering Zak Hardaker. However, with the very next tackle, the Warriors shifted the ball across the pitch and Williams stepped inside Tom Briscoe and powered over the top of Lolohea and Walker to extend the lead to 16 points. Hardaker missed the attempt at goal as the scoreline read 28-12 with just over 10 minutes to go.
Leeds won the ball back straight from the kick-off with Hurrell collecting the restart and after a few tackles, Kallum Watkins found himself with a huge amount of space after a Lolohea pass and and beat Williams on the outside to score. Lolohea then missed the conversion.
With just a 12 point gap, the Rhinos upped the tempo and put the Warriors under pressure with Williams knocking the ball on just 15 metres out from his own line. Lolohea once again dropped the ball and Leeds let Wigan off the hook.
Zak Hardaker then showed the Wigan faithful exactly why he deserves to be the starting full-back as he splits the Rhinos defensive line and releases Liam Farrell, who scores by the posts. The full-back then added the extras to give Wigan an 18-point lead with just under three minutes to go.
Leeds managed to win a penalty 10 metres out from the Wigan line, with under a minute to go but Pat Lams side forced yet another knock-on from the Rhinos and the final whistle was blown.
Wigan now sit on zero points in the table, pulling back the minus-two points the were given before the season started.
Full Time: Wigan Warriors 34-16 Leeds Rhinos
Man of the Match – George Williams
The half-back ran the show for the home-side in what was an improved performance from Wigan. He managed to pick up a try of his own and his kicking game was difficult for the Rhinos to handle with both Joe Greenwood and Dan Sarginson scoring after collecting William’s kicks.
Zak Hardaker, Tom Davies, Dan Sarginson, Oliver Gildart, Liam Marshall, George Williams, Thomas Leuluai, Tony Clubb, Sam Powell, Ben Flower, Joe Greewood, Liam Farrell, Sean O’Loughlin.
Subs: Romain Navarrete, Willie Isa, Gabriel Hamlin, Joe Bullock.
Dan Sarginson, Ben Flower, Joe Greenwood, Joe Bullock, George Williams, Liam Farrell
Zak Hardaker (5/7)
Jack Walker, Tom Briscoe, Kallum Watkins, Konrad Hurrell, Ash Handley, Tui Lolohea, Richie Myler, Trent Merrin, Brad Dwyer, Nathaniel Peteru, Liam Sutcliffe, Brett Ferres, Stevie Ward.
Subs: Adam Cuthbertson, Matt Parcell, Mikolaj Oledzki, James Donaldson.
Ash Handley, Brett Ferres, Kallum Watkins
Tui Lolohea (2/3)
Picture Credit: @RugbyAM – twitter