Rhinos charge into semis
Leeds eyeing first cup win since 1999
Last Updated: 01/06/08 2:29pm
Leeds try-scorer Brent Webb
Leeds avenged last season's Challenge Cup defeat by Wigan with a 23-16 quarter-final victory.
The Warriors had won five of their last seven meetings with the world champions but came up just short of another cup upset at a sweltering Headingley.
It took a last-minute drop-goal from Leeds skipper Kevin Sinfield to finally settle an absorbing contest which could have gone either way almost right to the hooter.
Wigan went ahead inside two minutes after Leeds were penalised for offside and Pat Richards knocked over the kick.
But two minutes later Leeds took advantage of a Wigan offside and what looked like a knock-on from Sinfield, before Matt Diskin spun in under the posts.
Sinfield added the extras and Leeds were the more dangerous side for 20 minutes, as Wigan were forced to muscle up in defence.
But the visitors survived and cut the deficit through Richards' boot after an interference call.
Wigan looked to have fought their way back into the contest only for a Trent Barrett Bomb in the Leeds half to ricochet off a crowd of players into the arms of Rob Burrow, who raced 65 metres to score.
Wigan were desperate to cut the lead before the half but could not breach a swarming Leeds defence, until Thomas Leuluai's cross-kick was collected by a leaping Marc Calderwood, who fought off Donald to score. Richards tagged on the extras and the half-time lead was 12-10.
Wigan survived three sets on their own line after successive penalties just after the break, the closest Leeds coming when Gareth Ellis spilled the ball attempting to touch down.
It took a moment of magic from Danny McGuire to stretch the lead to two scores as his lateral run and perfectly-timed pass sent Matt Diskin clear and the hooker offloaded for Brent Webb to score.
But back roared the Warriors with Leuluai steaking through a tired defence and as the game entered the final 10 minutes it was Wigan - particularly in the forwards - who looked to be finishing the stronger in the sapping conditions.
They could have won it only for McGuire and Webb to combine for a try-saving tackle on Liam Colbon in the corner.
Moments later Donald had a similar chance in the opposite corner and with the Wigan cover defence not able to reach him, the winger dived in to score.
Wigan knocked on the short kick-off and Sinfield's one-pointer kept the Rhinos on course for a first cup triumph since 1999.
Ladbrokes Challenge Cup