Wigan Warriors delivered a first Betfred Super League win for interim head coach Adrian Lam with a 34-16 win over Leeds Rhinos.
The reigning champions climbed off the foot of the table following their points deduction, and were provided with a timely boost ahead of next week’s World Club Challenge clash with Australian premiers Sydney Roosters.
Former Barrow prop Joe Bullock scored his first Super League try as he once more demonstrated his comfort at this level while former Leeds full-back Zak Hardaker kicked five goals on an accomplished home debut.
A first winning sing-song for Head Coach Adrian Lam...😍— Wigan Warriors 🍒⚪️ (@WiganWarriorsRL) February 8, 2019
🥁 Benny Flower takes to the drum after scoring his second try in two weeks! pic.twitter.com/lmjR0CWp5X
Dave Furner remains looking for a first win in charge of Leeds, but will have been encouraged by the performance, which was an improvement on their first-round defeat to Warrington Wolves, and saw his side get off to a dream start when Ash Handley collected a ricochet after the ball bounced off the shoulder of his opposite number Tom Davies, inside two minutes.
Leeds had to work a little harder for their second try, as right winger Tom Briscoe kept the ball alive and second rower Brett Ferres proved unstoppable as he charged onto Tui Lolohea’s pass.
Lolohea added both conversions as the Rhinos led 12-6 but they were twice undone by the kicking game of Wigan half-backs George Williams and Thomas Leuluai which produced tries for centre Dan Sarginson and forwards Ben Flower and Joe Greenwood.
When Bullock took a short pass from skipper Sean O’Loughlin to crash through for his try, the game had been transformed by three tries in nine minutes and Hardaker added a third conversion to make it 22-12, before Williams and Hardaker wrapped up the win and Kallum Watkins added a consolation.
Despite the win, Lam admits there is a lot of work to do going forward. He said:“I’m delighted. There is a little bit of pressure off. What was important tonight was getting a response from last week and, more importantly, building some confidence leading into the World Club Challenge.
“We were better. We’ve still a fair bit to do but we got the win and it’s a happy dressing room. We moved the ball a fair bit. Thankfully the weather held up and the field was dry enough for us to be able to do that."
Furner added: "There were times in the first half when we put ourselves in a very good position and I thought we defended well. Their first three tries came from kicks.
“Our discipline could have been better but in the second half we kept defending for each other and that tells me they’re working hard. The defending took some gas out of us but there were certainly some positives. They never gave up, we’ll certainly get better from that game.”