Leigh Centurions 28 Wigan Warriors 36
DESPITE a valiant fightback in the final quarter, Leigh Centurions lost their much anticipated friendly against Wigan.
Twelve tries came from the game in total with the young Warriors side claiming seven to Leigh’s five.
Leigh gave glimpses of their potential with several high speed passing movements stretching Wigan but it was crucially the seventeen minutes after half-time that decided the outcome.
The Centurions had made a positive start with new signing Oliver Wilkes, Ryan Duffy and former Halifax, Sheffield and Featherstone man Sam Barlow all impressing up front, while with ball in hand Gregg McNally looked sharp alongside Liam Kay and Ryan Brierley.
Leigh created the first chance of points after eight minutes but Alex Brown couldn’t take Kay’s pass after the stand-off had shown good vision to open the defence.
Leigh kept up the pressure and stretched Wigan from right to left before McNally fired the ball out for Brown to score on the overlap.
Brierley couldn’t kick the goal from an acute angle and Wigan came right back at their hosts winning a further set of possession after some enthusiastic support play.
Wigan then picked up their intensity and an excellent Ryan Hampshire offload saw Joe Burgess cross for the first of his four tries after 24 minutes.
Hampshire added the first of four goals and Wigan launched another high speed move with halfbacks George Williams and Sam Powell taking over for former Bradford second row John Bateman to score.
Wigan led 12-4 but that was cut after 34 minutes when Bob Beswick darted out of dummy half and Kay streamed downfield to the posts in support.
Martyn Ridyard goaled and although Kay saw a second sparkling finish disallowed and Beswick was forced from the field with injury, up stepped McNally to create space for Brown to cut back inside for his second try.
Ridyard’s second goal gave the Centurions a 16-12 half-time advantage before the lightning attack from Wigan took over.
In the space of 14 minutes Burgess had increased his tally to four while former London Bronco Sarginson also grabbed a quick double to take the visitors out to 36-16.
Leigh fought back admirably in the final quarter with two converted tries from Adam Higson and Ryan Brierley and were unlucky with a couple of further opportunities but the young Warriors side held out.
Leigh Centurions: Greg McNally, Adam Higson, Stuart Littler, Tom Armstrong, Alex Brown, Liam Kay, Ryan Brierley, Oliver Wilkes, Bob Beswick, Ryan Duffy, Matt Sarsfield, Tommy Goulden, Sam Barlow. Subs: Martin Aspinwall, Tom Spencer, Andy Thornley, Steve Maden, Matt Gardner, Martin Ridyard, Jake Emmit, Jamie Acton.
Wigan Warriors: Ryan Hampshire, Dom Manfredi, Dan Sarginson, Anthony Gelling, Joe Burgess, George Williams, Sam Powell, Dom Crosby, Logan Tomkins, James Greenwood, John Bateman, Connor Farrell, Greg Burke. Subs: Iain Thornley, Sam Hopkins, Lewis Tierney, Ryan Sutton, Ben Austin, Rhys Pugsley, Callum Wright, Rob Lever.
Referee: Jamie Bloem
On Friday, a young Centurions under 20s side gave a far more experienced Rochdale Hornets a real scare before narrowly losing 24-28.
Cameron Pitman, Sam Peet, Lewis Foster and Brad Ashurst all claimed tries with Josh Ward kicking four goals.
It was an action packed display from Pitman and Foster in particular but Rochdale eventually won thanks to a try ten minutes from the end by Matty Crow, who played for Centurions last term.