Wigan 12 Leeds 13: Sinfield's late strike sends Leeds to Grand Final after thriller
21:19 GMT, 28 September 2012
Kevin Sinfield booted the match-winning penalty three minutes from time as Leeds clinched victory in one of Super League's most remarkable play-off thrillers.
Wigan trailed 11-0 at half-time and looked well beaten as the ruthless Rhinos threatened to disappear out of sight.
But the hosts rallied after the break through Harrison Hansen’s try before Pat Richards crossed in the corner and landed a brilliant touchline conversion to put the Warriors 12-11 up.
We're going to Old Trafford: Leeds Rhinos' players celebrate their victory in the qualifying semi-final
Getting a grip: Wigan's Epalahame Lauaki holds off Leeds' Ryan Bailey at the DW Stadium
However, Sinfield was on hand to book another Rhinos Grand Final appearance when Rob Burrow caught Wigan offside in a stunning finish.
Wigan were rocked before kick-off when Sam Tomkins withdrew through injury, but few expected them to lack so much direction during a first half in which they offered virtually nothing in attack.
Ouch: Brett Delaney is tackled by Wigan's Liam Farrell (left), Sean O'Loughlin and Jeff Lima (ground)
Play-off masters Leeds clicked into gear to produce their most dominant 40 minutes of the season just when they needed it most, suffocating Wigan’s few moments of hope with a line-speed in defence that kept the hosts frustrated.
And just as Wigan appeared to be getting on top, Leeds landed the sucker punch. Leeds prop Jamie Peacock was penalised for interference but it was the visitors who struck from the resulting Wigan attack through Kallum Watkins’ 90-metre interception of Brett Finch’s pass.
No holds barred: Leeds' Kylie Leuluai is held by the Wigan Warriors' defence
Round of applause: Leeds fans celebrate their team's victory and reaching the Grand Final
Sinfield converted easily and knocked over two more goals in quick succession when referee Richard Silverwood ruled indiscretions against Hansen and Finch.
The hosts finally came to life when Thomas Leuluai fed Hansen two minutes after the restart, raising hopes of a comeback — which they came desperately close to completing.