Well make no bones about this, this was a full on reserve team that
Wigan sent to take on a full strength Leigh first team, complete
with Reserve team coach John Winder in charge.
It perhaps should
not have been a surprise then to see Leigh win the game
comfortably, but I was shocked to see the performance described as
That seems a bit harsh to me, especially considering four of the
starting line up (Lewis Tierney, Joe Burgess, Dom Manfredi, Ryan
Hampshire) were jumping up two levels really, having spent most of
last season in the Under 18s rather than the Under 20s.
A late injury to Sam Powell, saw Liam Carberry play at Stand
Off, even though he's never played there, to my knowledge, since
joining our academy system in 2009. That also meant Hampshire
switched to Scrum Half from his usual Stand Off role.
I suppose if the criticism was to be fired, perhaps the pack
deserved the flak. It did seem a bit going through the motions at
times. Gil Dudson and Scott Taylor were benched after 15 minutes
(returned later), after which Wigan were already 10-0 down
following tries for the home side by Matt Gardner and Sam Hopkins.
I certainly felt Wigan competed well. They weren't getting run
over, but the difference was just when the ball got in the final
third of the field. Leigh were that little bit faster, sharper and
more clinical BUT that should be expected at this time of the year
especially against a Leigh team that included a ton of experience
from the likes of Stuart Littler, Bob Beswick, Rob Parker, Simon
Finnigan, Sean Penkywicz and Martin Aspinwall. Wigan also did not
receive a single penalty in the whole 80 minutes to help us get
down the field more easily, that's tough on a young side!
Two further tries before the break from Gardner (his second) and
Steve Maden made it 20-0 at the break.
Wigan had a good dig at the start of the second half but
couldn't find a try to get them on the scoreboard. Leigh showed our
youngsters how to do it with two back to back tries from Sean
Penkywicz and Ryan Brierley to give them a 30-0 lead after 57
The most impressive thing for me was that the young Wigan side
didn't concede again after than, and probably deserved another try
on top of the one they eventually claimed on 71 minutes from Jamie
Doran, converted by Ryan Hampshire to complete a 30-6 score line.
All in all though I wouldn't assess any performance out of this
game, considering the disparity of experience between the two
sides. It really was a non event of a match that was great for
building fitness levels, but not at all useful for assessing these
players potential for the forthcoming season.