Wigan have missed out on a place in the Super League Grand Final after losing to Leeds by just one point. It means the Rhinos are back at Old Trafford for a fifth time in six years after play-off semi-final at the DW Stadium.
The champions looked to have lost their grip on the crown when Wigan came from 11-0 down at half-time to lead 12-11 but skipper Kevin Sinfield kicked a penalty three minutes from the end to send them through to another Grand Final.
There was almost another twist to a frantic finale when Wigan stand-off Brett Finch, playing his final match for the club, was narrowly wide with a drop-goal attempt that would have set up extra time.
They may have finished 10 points and four places behind Wigan in the table but the Rhinos clearly play their best rugby at this time of the year.
Just like last year's league leaders Warrington, Wigan were left to curse the controversial Clubcall innovation that left them with little alternative but to choose the dangerous Rhinos as their semi-final opponents.
The Yorkshiremen made light of the absence of half-back Danny McGuire, whose controversial one-match suspension had overshadowed the build-up to the game, with Rob Burrow switching superbly into the role to dazzle Wigan all night with his electrifying footwork.
Wigan had less success plugging the gap caused by injury to Man of Steel contender Sam Tomkins, whose place was taken by 20-year-old Jack Murphy for only his second Super League appearance.
Murphy twice fumbled Sinfield's kicks in an otherwise competent display but it was Tomkins' creativity in attack that the Warriors sorely missed, particularly in an abject first half dominated by the visitors.
The only try of the first half came from a Wigan error on 12 minutes, centre Kallum Watkins snapping up the ball after a careless pass by Finch 10 metres out from the visitors' line and showing a clean pair of heels to all pursuers on a 90-metre sprint.
Burrow would have added a second try four minutes later but for a tremendous tackle by Wigan captain Sean O'Loughlin and they went on to dominate the rest of the first half, largely through the intelligent kicking of Sinfield.
He produced a 40-20 kick, three times tested winger Josh Charnley's ability under the high ball and generally kept the Warriors pinned deep inside their own half.
With rain starting to fall steadily midway through the first half, Sinfield also opted to take points when they were available so he slotted two penalties between the uprights and calmly added a drop goal 11 minutes before the break to stretch his side's lead to 11-0.
Wigan coach Shaun Wane could hardly wait to deliver his half-time pep talk and it clearly worked for his side looked far more energised from the start of the second half.
A break by O'Loughlin created the position for a bloodied Thomas Leuluai to put second rower Harrison Hansen through a gap for a try within two minutes of the re-start and Pat Richards' goal cut the deficit to five points.
Leeds thought they had scored again only to have Burrow's try disallowed by video referee Ian Smith, who ruled the half-back lost control of the ball in Murphy's last ditch tackle.
The momentum then shifted towards Wigan, as handling errrors by Ryan Hall and Shaun Lunt inside their own 20-metre area put Leeds under pressure and, after Lee Mossop had been held up over the line, Finch created space for Richards to go over at the corner for a second try.
The former Man of Steel added the touchline conversion to edge his side into a one-point lead and it looked good enough until another Burrow darting run caught Wigan offside to present Sinfield with a simple penalty from in front of the posts.