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Leeds overpowered as Wigan reach Grand Final
Wigan Warriors 22, Leeds Rhinos 12
Wigan are on course to do the double after overpowering reigning Super League champions Leeds in a breathless semi-final.
The Challenge Cup winners ran in three second-half tries to triumph and will now meet Warrington in next Saturday’s Grand Final at Old Trafford.
It will be the first time the two north-west giants have met in a major final since Wigan beat the Wolves in the 1990 Challenge Cup final at Wembley.
It was a fitting way for Australian winger Pat Richards and England internationals Sam Tomkins and Lee Mossop to mark their final appearances at the DW Stadium as they prepare for their moves to the NRL.
Leeds, champions in each of the last two years, drew level at 6-6 thanks to Joel Moon’s terrific try four minutes into the second half but this looked a game too far for them and they finished a well-beaten side.
The only try of the first half came after five minutes when Tomkins released Richards and he found centre Iain Thornley with an inside pass.
Richards’ angled conversion made it 6-0 and somehow that is how the score remained for the rest of the half as both sets of players defended heroically.
There were times when many of the Rhinos players looked out on their feet but they came out refreshed after the interval and soon drew level.
Carl Ablett wriggled free from tackles by Harrison Hansen and Matty Smith to charge into open space and he timed his pass perfectly for Moon to finish off.
Kevin Sinfield’s goal made it 6-6 but Wigan struck a purple patch to score twice in five minutes and take a stranglehold on the game.
They went back in front when Liam Farrell took Smith’s delayed short pass to crash over the line.
Wigan then capitalised on a handling error from the otherwise admirable Ablett, who could only palm a Smith grubber kick into the path of Darrell Goulding for the easiest of tries.
Richards converted both to extend his side’s lead to 18-6 – which began to look unassailable when Hansen got back to knock the ball from Moon’s grasp five metres out from the Wigan line.
The chance was created by Rob Burrow, who did more than anybody to spark a late fightback. But Leeds’ hopes finally disappeared when Smith’s jinking run created the position for Josh Charn-ley to score his 33rd Super League try of the season.
Leeds at least had the final say when substitute Liam Sutcliffe scored a consolation try four minutes from the end and Sinfield drop-kicked the conversion.