Wigan Warriors missed the chance to move back to the top of First Utility Super League as Leeds Rhinos continued their recent resurgence with a 18-16 victory at Headingley.
The Rhinos, leading 18-4 with 17 minutes remaining, were forced to hold off a late fightback from the visitors to claim their fourth win in five matches.
Liam Sutcliffe tagged on the extras to Kallum Watkins' 10th-minute opener before Josh Charnley latched onto George Williams' grubber kick in the corner to narrow the gap to 6-4 at half-time.
Happy with that! Wouldn't mind a meat pie though 😊— Ryan Hall (@Ryan5Hall) July 15, 2016
Leeds took control of the match during the first 25 minutes of the second half, Adam Cuthbertson finishing from Carl Ablett's fine run and Brett Ferres touching down after Wigan failed to deal with a high kick.
Wigan came roaring back and a superb pass from Charnley allowed Jack Higginson to score in the corner before Williams produced a wonderful solo effort two minutes later, Matty Smith kicking both to reduce the deficit to two points.
But defending champions Leeds held on to ensure they followed up last week's win over leaders Hull FC, generating confidence ahead of the Qualifiers.
Leeds coach Brian McDermott was delighted to see his club climb off the bottom of Super League.
"Leeds have never finished bottom in their 136-year history so of course it means a lot," McDermott said. "The job is not done yet but we're really pleased to be off the bottom, let's hope we can finish ninth.
"We got a bit erratic in the second half but we're still improving as a team. This group is still learning some things together and overall I thought it was just a great night.
"We've been through some tough moments this year and we toughed that one out against Wigan, who wouldn't roll over. I thought we defended really well. It got a bit emotional in the second half."
Shaun Wane now talking to the press after tonight's game. pic.twitter.com/yvJ5va0tjB— Wigan Warriors (@WiganWarriorsRL) July 15, 2016
Wigan coach Shaun Wane, without nine senior players through injury and suspension, had no complaints over the result.
"To lose any game is disappointing," he said. "I thought the effort was good but our game management could have been better. You can't afford to turn over easy ball against a side like Leeds.
"We weren't at the races in the first half so to go in at half-time so close, there were more positives for us. It was a great effort to get back in the game.
"We showed lots of desire but we got beaten on the floor, they butchered us with quick play-the-balls."