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Super League: Leeds Rhinos thumped at home by rampant table toppers Wigan Warriors

Leeds Rhinos’ hopes of muscling in on the play-offs are effectively over after Wigan dealt a 50-0 humiliation at Headingley which sent the visitors soaring back to the Super League summit.

Jake Wardle charged over for a hat-trick and Harry Smith nailed seven of nine conversions as Matt Peet’s men fired a warning to their title rivals with a stunning display against their woeful hosts.

The Rhinos may have made a habit of late-season surges but it is now surely beyond them as they must win their last two games – improbable on this evidence – as well as relying on unlikely collapses by both of the teams immediately above them.

The glaring fact is that Rohan Smith’s men, with inexperienced duo Jack Sinfield and Morgan Gannon exposed in the halves, are way short of the quality required for another season extension after another performance littered with simple mistakes.

Rhinos fans, pockets of whom showed their evident displeasure, might have reflected on a pair of missed early chances, with Harry Newman fumbling a Sinfield kick then the same player denied as he was pulled back from an 80-yard dash for an earlier knock-on.

But from the moment the clinical visitors grasped the initiative in the 16th minute, when Wardle went over after dropping onto Smith’s high ball, there seemed little chance of anything other than a Wigan win.

Peet’s men doubled their lead shortly after when extensive video replays over-ruled referee Jack Smith’s initial decision not to award a try, with Liam Farrell deemed not to have touched a Smith kick before Jai Field grounded the loose ball.

There were no arguments about Wigan’s third in the 34th minute, when Wardle finished off a series of crisp passes out left by finding Liam Marshall who sped over unchallenged in the corner.

And when Wardle added his second in similar fashion shortly before the hooter – with Smith duly adding his third of four conversions to take their half-time lead to 22 points – the home fans began to make their frustration known.

If Smith hoped for a second-half response he instead saw a Luke Hooley kick charged down within two minutes of the restart, Morgan Smithies reacting fastest to scoop up the deflection and send Kai Pearce-Paul over for Wigan’s fifth.

James Donaldson’s low drive over the line was penalised for a forward pass and Wigan continued to exploit their opponents’ sluggishness, with Wardle completing his hat-trick then Abbas Miski cutting in for his side’s seventh.

They were still not done, Farrell and Patrick Mago also crossing late on before Smith’s final kick brought up the 50, and led to the final whistle being greeted by an inevitable cacophony of boos.

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