Wane: We had team to win
6:44am Saturday 3rd May 2014 in © Press Association 2014
Wigan coach Shaun Wane refused to use the absence of Sean O'Loughlin as an excuse for his side's 28-12 Super League defeat at leaders Leeds.
Rhinos coach Brian McDermott admitted he was relieved to see the Warriors captain missing from the team sheet as his side extended their winning run to six matches.
"There was a sigh of relief ," McDermott said. "He may have been the difference tonight. I was grateful he wasn't playing."
England wingers Ryan Hall and Tom Briscoe were among the tryscorers as Leeds condemned the champions to a third domestic defeat of the season, all of which have come in the absence of their inspirational captain.
"I would rather he played," Wane said. "He slightly tweaked his groin in the team run and I wasn't willing to risk him. We still had the team to win but we were beaten fair and square.
"I thought the best team won. They they ended their sets better than us. They're a fantastic team.
"They have a lot of players who know how to win games and they managed the game well.
"Our effort was really good but we were dumb at times."
O'Loughlin's frustration was in marked contrast to the pride of his opposite number Kevin Sinfield, who led his team to an impressive win on his record-equalling 416th Super League appearance.
Sinfield took on the dummy-half duties in the absence of a specialist hooker after second rower Chris Clarkson had started in the role to help offset the absence of Rob Burrow with a fractured collarbone.
"It might have been a gamble but it was a calculated one," McDermott said of his experiment with Clarkson.
Leeds' classy outside backs were the stars of the show with their clinical finishing but McDermott was more pleased with their defensive efforts.
"They also keep turning tough carries out and making hard yards for the team," he said. "Without the tough stuff at the other end of the field, you don't get to score those tries.
"It was a satisfying win. It was a very tough game and we lost our way a little bit, especially in the first half.
"It got a bit scrappy in the second half but that happens sometimes when the game is played at an intense level we haven't been at for a while. The way we stuck at it was probably the most satisfying thing."