Leigh Centurions 0 Wigan Warriors 32

THE Leigh and Wigan derby returned to the rugby league calendar on Sunday and an impressive crowd of 6,476 were treated to some promising build-up work but ultimately no points from the Centurions.

Of course, let us not forget, this was Wigan that Leigh faced and not London Skolars, their opponents in a fortnight’s time.

Despite the lack of tryline action from the Centurions there was plenty for Leigh fans to get their teeth into as their promising young team again showed guts aplenty with James Taylor, Nick Stanton, Jamie Smith, Chris Hill and Dave Armitstead enhancing their reputations while Danny Meekin and Jamie Durbin did everything asked of them and more and Lee Marsh was heavily involved before succumbing to injury.

Wigan opened scoring after just two and a half minutes when Smith’s spun pass found Pat Richards after trialist Brett Longstaff had lost the ball, and the Irish international added the first of four goals. Leigh started slowly but could consider themselves unlucky when the impressive Donlan was stopped short.

Iafeta Paleaaesina then became a human wrecking ball, scattering a couple of defenders on his way to the try line for a 15th minute try. Again Richards was on form with the boot.

Wigan then turned up the heat with a mesmerising display of handling before the ball went to ground near the Leigh try line while both Stanton and Smith were forced to take awkward kicks to relieve pressure.

The Centurions then realised they too could contribute to the contest with Donlan again hauled down short following a startling burst of speed and pin-point delivery from Ian Watson.

It was then Leigh’s turn to attack but whereas Wigan came up with tries on their visits into the twenty metre zone, Leigh forced drop-outs – two in succession, but other than Donlan and Jamie Smith being denied, they couldn’t convert.

After holding sway on territory and possession for nearly ten minutes Leigh came up with an error and within twenty second had leaked another try. An ambitious pass looking for Stanton was picked up by Cameron Phelps and the Australian ran sixty metres.

Although Higson, Donlan and Ridyard closed that play down, Wigan moved the ball left and Andy Coley bounced a defender out of the way on the line to touch down.

Trailing 16-0 at halftime, Leigh needed to score first but it was the Warriors who upped the ante.

First Thomas Leuluai cut through from close range at dummy half to score under the posts, then two minutes later Sean O’Loughlin picked his way through the defence for a classy try.

Losing 28-0, lesser Leigh sides would have capitulated but this current team has grit and fought their way back with Taylor in particular standing out from his peers in the second half with an all action tackling, driving and offload display. Sam Reay chimed in with a couple of tricky runs that suggest he has the aptitude for a centre position and trialists Jamie Durbin and Longstaff added their usual enthusiasm.

Try as they might, the breaks just didn’t become points for Leigh and unable to convert two drop-outs after O’Loughlin saw a second try disallowed for a forward pass, Wigan showed their hosts how it was done when Phil Bailey charged over and touched down in the corner after 68 minutes.

Although there was no further addition to the score, Leigh offered a little more in attack during the final ten minutes. Steve Maden’s inventive chip and John Cookson’s spirited chase point to better times ahead, especially if Leigh can find a cutting edge to their play.

Leigh: Donlan, Stanton, Maden, Rudd, J. Smith; Ridyard, Watson; Longstaff, McConnell, Morrison, Taylor, Armitstead, Stewart. Subs: Mort, Marsh, Higson, Hill, Meekin, Durbin, Reay, Cookson.

Wigan: Mathers, Phelps, Goulding, Carmont, Richards; Smith, Leuluai; Fielden, Flanagan, Paleaaesina, Hock, Bailey, O’Loughlin. Subs: J Tomkins, Coley, Hansen, Prescott, Pryce, O’Carroll, S Tomkins.

Tries: Richards, Paleaaesina, Coley, Leuluai, O’Loughlin, Bailey.

Goals: Richards 4/6.

Referee: Phil Bentham.

Penalties: 9-11.

Half time: 0-16.