Rugby League - Leeds wary of in-form Wigan

Champions Leeds will put the only 100 per cent record on the line when they bring down the curtain on Super League's Magic Weekend at Manchester's Etihad Stadium against leaders Wigan on Sunday night.

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Rugby League - Leeds wary of in-form Wigan
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Leeds and Wigan face one another in the final game of the Magic Weekend

The Rhinos have won all six of their previous games at the festival, beating Bradford four times as well as Catalan Dragons and Wakefield, but coach Brian McDermott knows they face the ultimate test against the in-form Warriors. "They're the benchmark at the moment," McDermott said.

Organisers broke with the traditional derby format in order to provide a fitting climax to the seventh Magic Weekend, in which all 14 clubs play a round of Super League on the same stage over two days.

Wigan tasted defeat in each of the first two events, both to St Helens in Cardiff, but will be overwhelming favourites to end Leeds' proud record after winning their last 10 league and cup matches.

The Rhinos were shaping up as their most likely challengers after going on an eight-match unbeaten run but back-to-back defeats by Huddersfield, in the Challenge Cup, and St Helens have rocked the champions back on their heels.

"I don't know if it's a blip yet but clearly we've not been good enough for the last two weeks," McDermott said. "We can makes strides forward if we get the job done against Wigan, although to do that we will have to be very sound defensively throughout the game and that's what we haven't been for the last two weeks. Defence is our focus at the moment."

Leeds are the last team to beat the leaders, courtesy of their 18-14 triumph at Headingley in March, and Wigan captain Sean O'Loughlin is wary of the Yorkshiremen.

"When quality sides lose games they want to put it right and want to get back to winning ways," he said. "I am pretty sure Leeds will want to do that this week. I think we are playing some good rugby at the moment and we just want to keep our form going and our momentum."

Wigan have experienced scrum-half Matty Smith back in place of 18-year-old George Williams, who made his Super League debut in last week's win at London, but Leeds will give another outing to their own teenage debutant.

McDermott has high hopes for Liam Sutcliffe, an 18-year-old utility player who had his first taste of senior rugby when he went on as a substitute in Monday's 30-22 defeat by Saints.

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