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Thursday, November 17, 2022

Jai Field’s magical hat-trick leads Wigan to bruising victory over Leeds | Super League

Jai Field scored a hat-trick of tries as Wigan made it two wins from two at the start of the Betfred Super League season with a 34-12 win over Leeds. The opening 40 minutes was a bruising affair and Wigan had to come from behind to hold a slender 12-6 lead at the break.

Blake Austin marked his Rhinos debut with a brilliant solo effort to put Leeds up by six but the Warriors were handed a lifeline when Field grabbed the first of his three tries in controversial circumstances. It looked as if the scores would be level at the break but, in a moment of magic, Field waltzed over on the hooter.

Wigan came out in the second half and blitzed the Rhinos. Two Sam Powell tries and a length-of-the-field effort for Field’s hat-trick took Wigan from 12-6 up to 28-6. The Rhinos’ Matt Prior and Warriors’ Liam Farrell then traded tries but it was Wigan’s night.

An error from Kai Pearce-Paul put Wigan under pressure deep in their own half early on. Alex Mellor went close before Liam Marshall put a monster hit on Liam Tindall but he was penalised for offside to keep the Yorkshire side camped on Wigan’s line.

They took full advantage of their possession as Austin collected a pass from Aiden Sezer to step his way past some poor defending to grab a try on debut. Sezer converted for a 6-0 lead.

Leeds looked as if they were going to extend their lead as Tindall made a break from his own 20. It appeared he was going to race away to score but Field kept his composure and put in a copybook tackle that sent the winger into touch.

That lifted the home support and they finally had something to cheer about, albeit in controversial circumstances. Cade Cust tried to find Jake Bibby with a short ball and it looked as if the centre had knocked on before Field picked up the loose ball to score.

Jake Bibby (left) congratulates matchwinner Jai Field
Jake Bibby (left) congratulates matchwinner Jai Field. Photograph: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com/Shutterstock

Replays suggested it hit Bibby’s arm before it came off his foot but the video referee Ben Thaler saw nothing wrong with it and the try was awarded. Field converted to level it at 6-6.

Wigan ended the half the stronger with Zak Hardaker going close down the right before the Warriors felled the Rhinos with a try out of nothing. John Bateman managed to slip the ball out and Field danced his way through without a finger laid on him. He then converted his own try for a second time to ensure Wigan led at the break.

The first try of the second half would be crucial and it went to the Warriors as they kept the ball alive on the last tackle. It went from left to right and Pearce-Paul eventually got boot to ball and Powell won the race to touch down with Hardaker converting to put the hosts 18-6 ahead.

Wigan then put the game to bed straight from the restart as a rampaging Patrick Mago got the ball away in the tackle and Field was on hand to race 80 metres and leave the Leeds cover defence for dead to complete his hat-trick. Hardaker made it 24-6 and Wigan were in full control.

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The Warriors then made it three tries in 10 second-half minutes in a bizarre incident. It looked as if Jack Walker had grounded the ball in goal to concede a dropout but the referee, Liam Moore, felt he had dropped the ball and sent the decision upstairs. TV replays showed that Walker dropped the ball and Powell grounded it for his second of the night.

Leeds managed to pull one back through Prior but Wigan had the final say as Farrell touched down from a yard out following great work from Cust.

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