Handy Handley helps Leeds to win

Published: Friday 20th March 2015 by The News Editor

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Teenager Ash Handley scored on his home debut as Leeds moved to within two points of Super League leaders St Helens with a hard-fought 26-14 win over Wigan in front of a bumper 18,350 crowd at Headingley.

Handley, drafted in for only his second senior appearance as a replacement for shoulder injury victim Tom Briscoe, was among five different tryscorers as the Rhinos overcame the absence of skipper Kevin Sinfield to condemn Wigan to a third defeat in six matches.

Liam Sutcliffe proved an able deputy for the injured Sinfield, scoring a try and kicking three goals, but Leeds’ hero was Australian prop Adam Cuthbertson, who also scored a try and proved a real handful for the visitors with his powerful running and skilful ball handling.

Leeds, who handed a recall to full-back Z ak Hardaker pending the outcome of a disciplinary investigation, were good value for their fifth win of the campaign but could never relax against their injury-hit opponents.

The home side made the brighter start without finding the finishing touches and Wigan, captained by Leeds-born hooker Michael McIlorum, opened the scoring from their first real attack, with centre Anthony Gelling breaking clear to get the supporting Matty Smith over after 10 minutes.

Smith kicked the conversion and added a penalty six minutes later after Cuthbertson was pulled up for a high tackle on George Williams to make it 8-0 .

However, the Warriors made a hash of the restart and never touched the ball for the next eight minutes as Leeds struck a purple patch with three tries.

Cuthbertson, who qualifies for England, got the first, following up a grubber kick on the last tackle by hooker Paul Aiton and was also involved in a sweeping move that was finished at the corner by Handley.

The former Newcastle Knights forward then produced a superb short pass to get substitute Brad Singleton over and Sutcliffe kicked his second goal to make it 18-6.

Wigan finally managed to stem the tide and struck back four minutes before the break when left winger Joe Burgess caught Williams’ kick on the full to dive over for a spectacular try, which was goaled by Smith to cut the gap to just two points.

Defences got on top in the second half, with Wigan having to do most of the work as the Rhinos gained the momentum.

Referee Richard Silverwood gave the visitors a team warning after they conceded a string of penalties and the pressure told on the hour when Sutcliffe stretched out of a two-man tackle to score his side’s third try.

Sutcliffe was off target with the conversion attempt but succeeded with a penalty five minutes later after he was tackled by Wigan’s Liam Farrell from an offside position.

Farrell was sin-binned for the offence and the Rhinos made the most of their man advantage when substitute Rob Burrow forced his way over from dummy half with 11 minutes to go.

Published: Friday 20th March 2015 by The News Editor

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