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25th January 1998: Leigh 10 Wigan 32
Sunday 25th January 1998
Hilton Park 3.00PM.


Final Score
Leigh 10 - Wigan 32
(HT 6 - 16)

Leigh:- Donlan, Burgess, Ingram, Fairclough, Harthill, O'Loughlin, Patel, Street, Jenkins, Pucill, Nixon, Costello, Garcis.
Subs:- Liku, Geritas, Burgess, Gunning, Smith, Wilkinson.
Scorers:-
Tries: Patel, Ingram.
Goals:- O'Lougnlin.

Wigan:- Davis, Smyth, Connolly, Gilmour, Peters, Cardiss, Smith, Cowie, McCormack, Mestrov, Barrow, Cassidy, Farrell.
Subs:- Grundy, Talbot, Ball, Isherwood, Morris.
Scorers:-
Tries: Cardiss, Farrell, Smyth (2), Connolly, Talbot.
Goals: Farrell 4.

Attendance: 3,682.
Referee: Gary Shaw.
Pitch: Soft.
Weather: Slight wind and bitterly cold.
Man of the match: Wigan: Robbie McCormack.
Man of the match: Leigh: Tim Street.



Wigan warriors scored a double victory on Sunday beating Whitehaven 44 points to 12 at Central Park and then Leigh, later on that day at Hilton Park, 32 points to 10. Wigan coaching staff took the chance to blood all of their fit professionals and many young players in the two games. The two wins proved to coach John Monie that he will have a selection problem come the start of the season, who not to pick from over 30 players capable of succeeding on the field of dreams. A problem that any coach would be glad of. The game against Whitehaven took place behind closed doors and the star man of that game was New Warriors centre Bell with three tries.

The game at Leigh on the other hand attracted over 3,700 supporters. And Wigan generously allowed Leigh Centurion's to keep all of the profits from the game as a thank-you for providing Wigan with what proved to be a worthy challenge. Many people will remember the fiercely contested local derby's between these two teams from a few years ago. And this served as a reminder of those good times for Leigh RLFC. What added to the memories was the temperature off the field. The game was played on a clear but bitterly cold afternoon and a partisan Leigh crowd welcomed Wigan with the famous chants that those old enough to recall will notice little change in. Wigan started slowly and Leigh made a lot of ground in the first half. In fact Leigh made some very clear breaks only to be stopped just short by a last ditch Wigan defender. Assisted by an early penalty count of 4 to nil by the referee, Leigh worried Wigan for nearly 15 minutes and surprised even their own fans.

Wigan then started to get into gear and Winger Rob Smyth looked to be enjoying a good run out with his old team-mates. Props Cowie and Mestrov faired well as did Leigh's prop and captain, Tim Street. All was going well until Mestrov fell in a tackle and broke his finger early in the first half. He left the field in much pain and was taken away for medical treatment immediately. Wigan shifted subs around and Leigh used nearly all of their 23 man squad.

Warrior's skipper Andy Farrell led well from the front of the game from Wigan and kicked more then adequately. Tony Smith was alert and set-up two tries from his jinking runs from midfield. New Australian signing McCormak played well for a new boy, making some big hits and powerful runs from the middle of the park at hooker. He may be 31 but he was able and hard, skilful to put down, and had it not been for the referee spotting forward passes from afar McCormack would have set up 3 more tries for Wigan. Wigan launched their first attack of the game when Smith jinked inside to see the Leigh line ahead of him and offloaded to Darryl Cardiss to score under the posts. Smith again provided a nice pass for Farrell to twist over the line and all was looking good for Wigan.

Leigh next hit back with a finely worked try from impressive scrum half Safraz Patel. He ran up to the Wigan line, chipped over and re-gathered the ball, having a go at juggling and then scoring under the posts. It was well deserved and the Leigh fans erupted into cheers of joy at the thought of possibly pushing Wigan in this friendly game. Those hopes were dashed as Farrell made a run through to offload to Rob Smyth who strolled in to take a try.

Half time saw the scores close at 16 - 6. But that was soon to change when the ever dangerous Gary Connolly let fly with a bust of speed from acting half back early on the second half. The supporting Smyth caught the pass and headed for the line only to be held down by David Ingram, who was duly sin binned. Connolly was rewarded a minute later when he forced his way over under the posts to score. A minute later again saw Smyth crash over out wide from another Farrell break and offload.

Leigh grabbed another try courtesy of Ingram when Wigan's young full back Wes Davis missed a high ball from Patel. Of course a few fists let fly when Tim Street finally squared up to Lee Gilmore and Neil Cowie tried to finish the matter in the next tackle. Needless to say the next few drives by both players were far from friendly. Leigh proved to be very able during this game, and a second sin bin of Pucill for a second professional foul on Gilmore was an indication of Leigh's frustration. Ian Talbot rounded off the afternoon with a final try for Wigan, the final score being Wigan 32 and Leigh 10.

Connolly, Cardiss and Cassidy all came through the game with honours, as did young players like Barrow, Talbot, Ball, Isherwood and Gilmour. Overall the Wigan team made up of a mix of first team players and young hopefuls faired well against a fired up and determined Leigh side. Leigh did better than most expected and could feel proud that they kept this seasons Superleague championship favourites to just 32 points and happened to score 10 good points themselves. The pick of the Leigh team was Tim Street, with Patel, Ingram, Pucil, Liku and Fairclough giving very creditable performances. Both sides will be glad that the game went well and both will take away a sense of pride at the score.
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