Leeds trailed 14-0 in a one-sided first half and were 14-6 behind when Zane Tetevano was sent-off - for the third time in his Rhinos career - three minutes before the break, for what referee Liam Moore felt was a late and high tackle on Harry Smith.
Rhinos may feel they didn’t get the rub of the green in terms of decisions. The penalty count was 7-1 in Wigan’s favour before the visitors received the final three late on.
At the time of the dismissal Rhinos had just got back in the game, Harry Newman intercepting a Harry Smith pass and doing well to hold off the chasers for a touchdown which Rhyse Martin converted very much against the run of play.
Leeds were fortunate to be only eight points behind, having barely been able to get out of their half and when the red card came out, there seemed no possible way back.
Rhinos, though, often seem to play better when a man down and never more so than on this occasion. Tetevano’s dismissal brought them to life and, amid a sense of disbelief around the stadium, they were in front 10 minutes after the interval.
Tom Holroyd smashed his way over from first-receiver; then Richie Myler’s kick bounced off Harry Smith to namesake Cameron and he put Myler over.
Iain Thornley dived over at the corner after successive penalties to level the scores, but Newman intercepted from Harry Smith again and Martin’s fourth goal put Leeds 24-18 up with 17 left.
Four later Justin Sangare kept the ball alive on the last, Cameron Smith and Morgan Gannon worked it to Martin and he stepped inside to score.
He missed the relatively straightforward conversion, but moments later Cameron Smith cut through some poor defence on the last and that was converted to make it 34-18, effectively ending Wigan’s hopes.
Leeds finished on a high. French was sin-binned for a professional foul three minutes from time and in the last seconds Liam Tindall wrapped it up with Rhinos’ third interception try and Martin kicked the goal after the hooter.
The incredible drama of the second half was in contrast to an opening 40 which Wigan dominated.
Rhinos turned the ball over in their half twice in the opening 17 minutes, conceded three penalties - all for offside - a set restart and two line drop outs.
Their defence during that spell was impressive, one try-saver by Cameron Smith on Toby King in particular, but a crack was inevitable and Abbas Miski went over from a long pass by Joe Shorrocks to open the scoring.
Ten minutes later Ash Handley, playing at full-back with Myler in the halves for Leeds, knocked-on a low kick on Leeds’ line and Sam Powell sent French over - taking Martin, Gannon and Blake Austin with him - from the scrum base.
Harry Smith extended the hosts’ advantage to 14 with a penalty goal on 33 minutes and there seemed no way back for Leeds, who were down to just 15 available players.
Here's how the Rhinos players rated.