Bevan shines for the Warriors
TWO-TRY Bevan French inspired Challenge Cup holders Wigan – but Leeds star Harry Newman will have nightmares about his big gaffe.
Aussie full-back French helped Warriors fight back from 14-0 down to seal their spot in today’s quarter-final draw.
Trailing 18-14, though, Leeds had a great chance to rescue it when centre Newman surged through in the 76th minute.
But the England hopeful, 23, inexplicably ignored the supporting Richie Myler and was taken down by last-man French. Newman, 23, had almost been halted by the Wigan star when scoring in the first half after dummying with both Myler AND Rhyse Martin on hand.
He got away with it then – but not the second time as he crucially bombed the golden opportunity.
However Rhinos boss Rohan Smith defended his man, who had to be split up from team-mate Tom Holroyd after a tunnel scuffle following the recent loss to Salford.
Asked what he would say to Newman – rated one of Super League’s best young talents – he replied: “Keep your head up, keep moving forward. It’s easy to sit in the grandstand with, ‘Should have, would have, could haves’.
“It’s all happening so fast and Bevan French is an expert at interrupting those situations. He has been all his life. It’s never down to one player.
“You’ve got to back the instincts of your players. In the end the one in the first half turned out well, the second one didn’t. He made a decision. He’s very disappointed but that’s what sport’s about.”
Leeds had remarkably fought from 14-6 down to win 40-18 with just 12 men at Wigan in Super League eight days earlier.
But Matt Peet’s side were the comeback kings here as they rallied against hosts who started impressively despite seeing Ash Handley and Blake Austin pull out late on.
After Holroyd and Newman scored tries, Martin slotting six points with the boot, French got the Warriors back in it when he shoved off Newman for his first try in the 36th minute.
And then French got another just 32 seconds into the second half following Liam Farrell’s break.
Harry Smith slotted the goal and then put impressive forward Junior Nsemba over for the 18-year-old’s first try in Wigan colours.
Smith missed the easy conversion shot but Jake Wardle exposed poor Newman’s defence again to put the visitors ahead for the first time in the 66th minute.
And Wigan, who lost England prop Ethan Havard to a dislocated elbow early on, held on for the victory.
Peet admitted: “We just can’t give in can we? We can accept we can’t win every game but we can’t accept giving in. I was proud of their resilience today.
“It has been a long week. I didn’t think we were good enough at the start of the game but our desire and commitment to one another shone through.
“Bevan has his highlights reel and that’s talent. But what I admire about him most is his courage and ability to make big plays in attack and defence. And I’m made up for Junior. He’s a great kid.”
LEEDS: Tries: Holroyd, Newman;
Pen: Martin; Cons: Martin (2)
WIGAN: Tries: French (2), Nsemba, Wardle;