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Super League: Leeds Rhinos hold off Wigan Warriors at Headingley
Leeds bounced back from their humiliation at home to Huddersfield with a hard-fought 18-14 victory over Wigan at Headingley.
Just as they did in the Challenge Cup semi-finals and the Super League play-offs last year, the Rhinos - thrashed 32-8 by the Giants a week ago - came out on top in a keenly-fought contest that ebbed and flowed throughout.
The reigning champions actually trailed 8-6 at the break but tries from Joel Moon and Jamie Jones-Buchanan helped give head coach Brian McDermott his first regular season triumph over Wigan since taking charge at Leeds.
The Warriors put up a real fight on their travels, particularly as they had to do without Sam Tomkins due to a dead leg he suffered in training.
Pat Richards took over at full-back but may have wish he hadn't of bothered when Ryan Hall cut inside him on the left wing to break the deadlock in the 10th minute.
In truth the Rhinos winger could have had a hat-trick by half time. A knock-on whilst sliding to get a kick to the corner saw a try go begging, while Josh Charnley did superbly well to hold up his England team-mate over the line.
The fine defensive work allowed the Warriors to hit back with their first real attack at the other end of the field in the 20th minute, Liam Farrell brushing off a weak challenge from Kallum Watkins to slide over.
Matty Smith, kicking instead of Richards, added the extras and then also converted a penalty after Jones-Buchanan had been caught out for a high shot, giving the visitors an unlikely lead.
Leeds, though, turned the game around with the game's next two scores; Charnley gifted Joel Moon the simplest of tries when he dropped Kevin Sinfield's bomb under pressure from Hall, while Jones-Buchanan put daylight between the two sides when he brushed aside Blake Green.
They could've been even further clear had Ian Kirke released the ball earlier to the supporting Danny McGuire for what would be an easy run-in, with the knock-on letting Wigan off the hook.
They made the most of the escape, some neat handling putting Iain Thornley in at the left wing , but although Smith converted from the touchline, in the end they couldn't quite breach the hosts again to rescue something from an absorbing game.
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First Utility Super League Table
|5||Hull K R||0||0|
|7||Salford Red Devils||0||0|
|First Utility Super League|
|Thursday 5th February|
|20:00||Widnes vs Wigan|
|Friday 6th February|
|20:00||St Helens vs Catalans Dragons|
|Saturday 7th February|
|15:00||Warrington vs Salford|
|Sunday 8th February|
|15:00||Huddersfield vs Hull|
|15:00||Hull K R vs Leeds|
|15:30||Castleford vs Wakefield|
|Thursday 12th February|
|20:00||Salford vs St Helens|
|Friday 13th February|
|20:00||Hull vs Warrington|
|20:00||Leeds vs Widnes|
|20:00||Wigan vs Huddersfield|
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