- Match Report as Wigan Warriors fightback to knock Leeds Rhinos out of the Challenge Cup at Headingley Stadium.
- Junior Nsemba scored his first Wigan try as Warriors come from 14-0 down to progress.
- FT | Leeds Rhinos 14-18 Wigan Warriors.
Wigan Warriors fightback from 14-0 down to defeat Leeds Rhinos and progress to the quarter-finals of the Challenge Cup.
After an intense start to the tie, in which Ethan Havard was forced off through injury, Leeds opened the scoring after eight minutes when Tom Holroyd used momentum to crash over underneath the sticks.
Warriors reacted well to going behind as Jake Wardle gained 60m after breaking the line, before Wigan had tries disallowed in back-to-back sets for forward passes.
Swift passing allowed Liam Marshall to accelerate free down the wing and loop a pass inside to Bevan French who was halted in front of the line, before the referee’s whistle then denied Wardle a try after he ran onto a short pass.
Wigan continued to threaten as French almost went over after claiming Harry Smith’s high kick, but Rhinos extended their lead with a penalty goal after Warriors were penalised for offside.
Leeds went over for a second try after 32 minutes when Richie Myler’s offload set up Harry Newman who juggled the ball before he collecting to go over. Rhyse Martin kicked successfully from the tee to give Rhinos a 14-0 advantage.
Warriors hit back before the break after neat play along the line found French who wrongfooted the Leeds defender to touch down. The conversion was missed, and the score remained 14-4 at the interval.
French dived over for his second of the afternoon 36 seconds into the half after Sam Powell and Farrell initially combined to break the line. Smith kicked the extras, reducing the score to 14-10.
Warriors’ momentum continued in front of the travelling support, and after strong defence to force a goal line drop out, Smith’s pass set Junior Nsemba up to crash over for his first Wigan try, and to level the scores on 53 minutes.
A tense battle had unfolded in the West Yorkshire sunshine, and the Wigan supporters were celebrating once more when Ryan Hampshire’s pass opened up space for Wardle to dive over. Smith’s kick came back off the post, but Wigan led 18-14 after 66 minutes.
Wigan stood firm in defence to deny Rhinos, and a fantastic try saving tackle from French kept Warriors ahead after Newman had broken the line.
Warriors opted to run the ball in the final minutes instead of kicking the points, before the final hooter sounded to seal an emphatic comeback and progression in the Challenge Cup.
Wigan Warriors: Bevan French, Abbas Miski, Toby King, Jake Wardle, Liam Marshall, Ryan Hampshire, Harry Smith, Ethan Havard, Sam Powell, Liam Byrne, Morgan Smithies, Liam Farrell, Joe Shorrocks.
Interchange: Kaide Ellis, Patrick Mago, Brad O’Neill, Junior Nsemba.
18th Man: Iain Thornley.
Tries: French (35′, 41′), Nsemba (53′), Wardle (66′).
Goals: Smith 1/4
Leeds Rhinos: Richie Myler, Liam Tindall, Harry Newman, Nene Macdonald, Derrell Olpherts, Morgan Gannon, Aidan Sezer, Mikolaj Oledzki, Jarrod O’Connor, Tom Holroyd, Rhyse Martin, James McDonnell, Cameron Smith.
Interchange: Justin Sangare, Sam Lisone, James Donaldson, Corey Johnson.
18th Man: Sam Walters.
Tries: Holroyd (8′), Newman (32′).
Goals: Martin 3/3
Referee: Chris Kendall.