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Sinfield leads Rhinos to Wigan win
Leeds produced a masterclass to end Wigan's eight-match winning run and return to the top of the First Utility Super League with a hugely-impressive 28-12 victory at Headingley.
The Rhinos' star-studded outside backs were once more the stars of the show, with England trio Ryan Hall, Tom Briscoe and Zak Hardaker all scoring tries to condemn the reigning champions to their third defeat of the domestic season.
It can be no coincidence that all three defeats have come in the absence of influential skipper Sean O'Loughlin, whose injury jinx struck again on the eve of Friday's Roses clash.
O'Loughlin's frustration was in marked contrast to the pride of his opposite number Kevin Sinfield, who led his team to a spectacular win on his record-equalling 416th Super League appearance.
Sinfield took on the dummy-half duties in the absence of a specialist hooker after Chris Clarkson had started in the role and helped soften the blow of losing Rob Burrow for up to three months with a fractured collarbone.
If the Rhinos' England backs provided the highlight for the bulk of the 18,139 crowd, coach Brian McDermott will no doubt be more satisfied with another magnificent defensive effort, once more led by veteran prop Jamie Peacock. Wigan scored two tries but both were scrappy efforts from close range.
The game began badly for the visitors with John Bateman losing possession in the first set of tackles and hardly improved.
The Rhinos were in front inside two minutes when Hall palmed the ball back from Sinfield's kick for Danny McGuire to touch down, and 10 minutes later in-form full-back Hardaker scythed through the Warriors defence to score straight from a scrum.
With Sinfield kicking a goal, Leeds led 10-0 but Wigan gradually worked their way into the contest.
Their first chance fell to teenage winger Joe Burgess after he collected a kick from stand-off Blake Green, but Leeds' defence scrambled superbly and their first try was a close-range effort from loose forward Tony Clubb, who barged over from dummy-half after hooker Michael McIlorum had been held short of the line.
Matty Smith's conversion cut the Yorkshiremen's lead to four points and Wigan could have gone in front had Green been able to ground the ball when he reached the line, but he was turned onto his back and the chance was lost.
In truth, the visitors were hardly in the contest and it was no surprise when Leeds extended their lead five minutes before half-time when Hall stormed in trademark fashion from deep inside his own half to set up the position for centre Kallum Watkins to skilfully work winger Tom Briscoe in at the corner.
Sinfield's touchline conversion made it 16-6 and the best was yet to come with Hall's spectacular score.
Watkins launched a high kick on halfway more in hope than expectation on the last tackle but re-gathered possession and Leeds kept the ball alive, moving it to the left where Joel Moon kicked ahead for Hall to gather and touch down for a richly-deserved try.
Hall also came up with a break to give McGuire a run to the line but he lost his grip on the ball, while Wigan chanced their arm in the final quarter and finally gained some reward for their perseverance when prop Scott Taylor forced his way over from five metres out for his side's second try.
Leeds remained well in control, however, and substitute Liam Sutcliffe capped an impressive cameo stand-off display with a jinking run that brought their fifth try two minutes from the end, with Sinfield kicking his fourth goal.