Late penalty wins it for Wigan

Wigan halfback, Matty Smith landed a last-minute penalty 38 metres out from the posts to snatch a dramatic 26-24 victory against Leeds Rhinos tonight, in a thriller at the DW Stadium.

The Rhinos had come back from a 24-12 deficit to pull level with a brilliant individual opportunist try from Rob Burrow, who showed deft footwork to touch down for a try from dummy-half in the 77th minute, with captain Kevin Sinfield landing his fourth conversion of the night to tie the scores.

But referee Richard Silverwood awarded a late penalty to Wigan when Carl Ablett breached the Wigan defence to break downfield, and Leeds’ hooker, Paul Aiton prevented Wigan prop, Lee Mossop from attempting to tackle him.  Smith held his nerve to land the goal.

Aiton had opened the scoring in the tenth minute with his own opportunist try from dummy-half, but Wigan soon equalised when Liam Farrell touched down Joe Burgess’s inside kick to the line, with Smith landing the first of his four conversions.

Wigan took the lead after 16 minutes when skipper Sean O’Loughlin got his first try of the season from a smart pass by Smith.

Leeds levelled, ten minutes later, when Brad Singleton touched down from a superb pass by Adam Cuthbertson, and then thought they had taken the lead after a brilliant passage of play on 31 minutes, when Danny McGuire touched down.

But the referee, supported by the video referee, refused the try because of a controversial obstruction of defender, Joel Tomkins by Kallum Watkins.

Almost immediately, Wigan went to the other end of the field and Matty Bowen, who was superb all night, positioned himself superbly to catch a kick to the Leeds line by George Williams, to touch down.  And it was another kick, this time from Smith, that led to Josh Charnley touching down after 50 minutes, to open up a 12-point gap.

It was then the Rhinos’ turn to score from a kick, as Ash Handley touched down Sinfield’s kick to reduce the gap to six points.

As the tension rose both sides had chances, until Burrow appeared to have secured a draw for the Rhinos.  But that was before Aiton’s fateful indiscretion,  which handed the victory to Wigan, thanks to Smith’s big-match temperament.

A full report, photos and analysis of this game will feature in Monday’s edition of League Express.