Leeds Rhinos march into Grand Final after dramatic second-half turnaround

Wigan Warriors 8 Leeds Rhinos 20 Eyebrows were raised when Leeds Rhinos appointed Rohan Smith as head coach, but this famous victory took the eight-time Super League champions

into next Saturday’s Grand Final. Smith, a laconic Australian, took the reins in May after Richard Agar quit following the club’s disastrous start to the season. He

has inspired a stunning resurgence which has seen the aristocratic Yorkshiremen transformed from relegation candidates to Grand finalists. Smith’s men will face defending

champions St Helens or Salford – who meet in the second play-off semi-final on Saturday  – aiming to win a ninth Grand Final. Wigan battered Leeds’ line for much of the

opening 40 minutes but had only Liam Marshall’s clinically-executed try to show for it. Leeds, on a chilly evening, gradually warmed to their task and a dramatic turn of

events shortly after half-time set them on the road to victory. First, hooker Jarrod O’Connor scampered over the line, Wigan then lost star man Bevan French to a foot

injury, James Bentley added a second Leeds try and the visitors had England forward John Bateman sent off for a dangerous high shot on Aidan Sezer. The Rhinos trailed here

when Marshall dived over the line in the left corner in typically acrobatic fashion. That poured confidence into Wigan and they began to dominate, their forward pack laying

a formidable platform up front. But they could not make their pressure pay and Zak Hardaker’s penalty got them off the mark shortly after French picked up a knock as he made

a break.