Patched-up Wigan produced a courageous display against a rejuvenated Bradford - but it was not enough to prevent a record-equalling third successive Super League defeat by 40-8.
Three tries in the last 15 minutes were cruel on the Warriors, whose 32-point margin of defeat surpassed their previous heaviest loss in Super League - a 34-6 reversal in the corresponding fixture last year.
Without captain Kris Radlinski and stand-off Danny Orr, in addition to their long-term injury victims, the youthful Warriors deserve considerable praise for pushing the Bulls all the way in a rip-roaring clash at Odsal.
Wigan, who included five players aged 20 or under and gave a debut to Leeds prop Wayne McDonald, were in touch at half-time when they trailed only 14-8 thanks to two tries from winger Brett Dallas.
But the greater experience of Bradford gradually won the day, with half-backs Robbie Paul and Iestyn Harris bossing the show. After the game Warriors coach Denis Betts expressed concern over another late collapse.
“The loss doesn’t bother me, it’s the nature of the way we capitulated that annoys me,” he said. “We let them score 40 points and that’s not acceptable.
“I’m not questioning our enthusiasm or commitment, I’m questioning our ability to take the right options. Maybe we’re over committed and forcing things a little too much.”
It's Widnes next for Wigan at the JJB Stadium on Friday.
Salford City Reds 42 Leigh Centurions 6
Stuart Littler grabbed his second hat-trick of the season as high-flying Salford made it three engage Super League victories in a row against bottom club Leigh at the Willows by 42-6.
The 26-year-old centre raced over for a treble in last month’s 42-10 win over Warrington and was in great form again as the Reds ran riot in the second half tonight, taking his tally for the year to eight overall.
Former Wigan starlet Luke Robinson also once again showed his former club what they are missing with an inspired performance as the 20-year-old scrum-half crossed over for two tries to make it seven in Salford’s last four games, which also includes a Challenge Cup win at Rochdale.
Leigh had arrived in good heart following last week’s thrilling draw with Hull and they went ahead through a Ben Cooper try.
However, Salford replied with touchdowns from Ian Sibbit and Littler to lead 12-6 at the interval and eventually cruised to victory with six more tries in the second half.
Widnes Vikings 20 Leeds Rhinos 42
Leeds skipper Kevin Sinfield led from the front as the champions strengthened their place at the top of the engage Super League with a 42-20 win against Widnes.
The in-form stand-off scored two of his side’s seven tries and landed all seven conversions to bring up the 1,000th point of his Leeds career.
The Rhinos’ highly-predictable 10th win of the season put them four points clear of nearest challengers St Helens, at least for 24 hours, but it was not the rout many predicted.
Widnes coach Frank Endacott, who axed four regulars following last week’s dismal loss to Salford, called for his side to play with “fire in their belly” and he was not disappointed.
The Vikings remain deep in relegation trouble after a ninth defeat in 11 matches but they did much to salvage their respect with a battling performance highlighted by two tries from skipper Shane Millard.
Wakefield Wildcats 29 London Broncos 18
Wakefield ended their three-match losing sequence in engage Super League with a hard-fought 29-18 win over London Broncos at the Atlantic Solutions Stadium.
The Wildcats were in control for much of the game but Broncos refused to lie down and made their hosts dig deep to avenge their record 72-8 defeat in the capital in February.
Huddersfield Giants 22 St. Helens 36
Scrum-half Chris Thorman made an outstanding contribution to Huddersfield’s performance by scoring two tries and setting up another but it could not save them from a 36-22 defeat by St Helens.
Thorman, making his first start in four games after recovering from an back injury, was in terrific form all afternoon and scored 14 of the Giants’ 22 points.
Thorman converted his brace of tries in the first half to drag the home side level at 12-12 in this engage Super League match after Darren Albert and Paul Wellens scored tries for Saints early on, with Jamie Lyon twice adding the extra.
Warrington 36 Hull 34
Kiwi winger Henry Fa’afili grabbed a hat-trick as Warrington Wolves snatched a thrilling 36-34 engage Super League victory over Hull.
Warrington looked to have the points sewn up when they led 30-12 early in the second half but Hull hit back in style to lead 34-30 until Graham Appo went over for his second try in the 77th minute, with substitute Chris Bridge landing the conversion.