Jake Wardle scored a hat-trick while Jai Field, Liam Marshall, Kai Pearce-Paul, Abbas Miski, Liam Farrell and Patrick Mago all scored for Wigan as they won comprehensively away at Leeds
Last Updated: 09/09/23 8:25pm
Leeds Rhinos’ hopes of muscling in on the post-season play-offs are effectively over after Wigan dealt a 50-0 humiliation at Headingley which sent the visitors soaring back to the Super League summit.
Jake Wardle charged over for a hat-trick and Harry Smith nailed seven of nine conversions as Matt Peet’s team fired a warning to their title rivals with a stunning display against their woeful hosts.
The Rhinos may have made a habit of late-season surges but it is now surely beyond them as they must win their last two games – improbable on this evidence – as well as relying on unlikely collapses by both of the teams immediately above them.
Story of the game
The glaring fact is that Rohan Smith’s side, with inexperienced duo Jack Sinfield and Morgan Gannon exposed in the halves, are way short of the quality required for another season extension after another performance littered with simple mistakes.
Rhinos fans, pockets of whom showed their evident displeasure, might have reflected on a pair of missed early chances, with Harry Newman fumbling a Sinfield kick then the same player denied as he was pulled back from an 80-yard dash for an earlier knock-on.
But from the moment the clinical visitors grasped the initiative in the 16th minute, when Wardle went over after dropping onto Smith’s high ball, there seemed little chance of anything other than a Wigan win.
Wigan doubled their lead shortly after when extensive video replays over-ruled referee Jack Smith’s initial decision not to award a try, with Liam Farrell deemed not to have touched a Smith kick before Jai Field grounded the loose ball.
There were no arguments about Wigan’s third in the 34th minute, when Wardle finished off a series of crisp passes out left by finding Liam Marshall who sped over unchallenged in the corner.
When Wardle added his second in similar fashion shortly before the hooter – with Smith duly adding his third of four conversions to take their half time lead to 22 points – the home fans began to make their frustration known.
If Smith hoped for a second-half response he instead saw a Luke Hooley kick charged down within two minutes of the restart, Morgan Smithies reacting fastest to scoop up the deflection and send Kai Pearce-Paul over for Wigan’s fifth.
James Donaldson’s low drive over the line was penalised for a forward pass and Wigan continued to exploit their opponents’ sluggishness, with Wardle completing his hat-trick then Abbas Miski cutting in for his side’s seventh.
They were still not done, Farrell and Patrick Mago also crossing late on before Smith’s final kick brought up the 50, and led to the final whistle being greeted by an inevitable cacophony of boos.
What they said
Leeds Rhinos head coach Rohan Smith…
“You never forget these types of days. They stay with you and you just learn to deal with it better and to take something out of it.
“The crowd are entitled to be disappointed and upset today that we didn’t make it more of a contest on the scoreboard, but you look at that full-strength Wigan team and how they’ve been playing, and all the obstacles we’ve had with our young team today.
“You’re going to have some rough days with these young players, but it’s the only way to learn and to build a team.”
Wigan Warriors head coach Matt Peet…
“It’s not a statement, it’s just a really good performance against a good team who were desperate as well. Just a few weeks ago we scraped a win and didn’t get too down, and we won’t get too excited today.
“(But) in the situation we’re in now, we should be setting an aim to gold that position. If we play well against Castleford and Leigh and get the result we will finish top, and I think that is a realistic aim now.”
On hat-trick hero Wardle, he added: “I’m loving the way he’s playing at the moment. He’s fitted in really well since day one and we’ve got ourselves a really quality player there.”
Wigan‘s penultimate home game of the regular season sees them face Castleford Tigers on Friday, September 15 (8pm). Leeds now face the difficult trip to France to face another of the frontrunners in Catalans Dragons the following day (5pm BST).
Watch the conclusion of the 2023 Betfred Super League season, including the play-offs and Grand Final, live on Sky Sports. Also stream on NOW.