If your just looking at the end result you might well start
panicking about this one but for me it was a good run out for
Leigh are on a high after their exploits last season and
deserved their win. Let's not forget they went mightily close to
beating Leeds in a competitive cup tie last year, so to just
dismiss them as a cheap Championship side we should roll over would
In the end they just had a bit more will to want to win the
contest, whereas for Wigan it was always what it was, a fitness
building exercise for the more important action to come.
Wigan started fine and had taken the lead with a Josh Charnley
try on 15 Minutes which made a 4-0 lead because Matty Smith failed
to convert off the touchline.
Then as the half wore on. Leigh began to find more and more half
breaks with Wigan contributing to that with a spell of errors as
well. In hindsight I expect the fact a lot of players knew they
were only playing for 40 minutes perhaps played a part in that but
Leigh also lifted on the back of a confrontation that had occurred
between John Bateman and Jamie Acton.
During the second quarter, Liam Kay scored twice for Leigh in
the left corner. The second being a gift after Hampshire had
spilled a bomb. Two touchline conversions from Ryan Brierley had
Leigh 12-4 up at the break.
At the start of second half the team lined up with many changes.
Something like this.... Matty Bowen, Josh Charnley, Joe Burgess
(yes at centre!), Oliver Gildart, Dom Manfredi, Ryan Hampshire,
Jack Shorrocks, James Greenwood, Logan Tomkins, Ryan Sutton, Connor
Farrell, John Bateman, Larne Patrick.
For the next twenty minutes it was much better from Wigan with
Hampshire especially catching the eye at Stand Off. Wigan scored
twice with Joe Burgess and then Hampshire himself scoring and then
converting his own try for a 14-12 Wigan lead.
29 minutes remained when Wigan went 14-12 up and it was always
looking more likely that they would extend that lead and had they
done so, they probably would have gone on to win by a further score
or more. But they never found another try. Poor last tackle options
perhaps or guilty of a lack of patience told but credit Leigh for
their defence also.
Because Wigan failed to find that try, Leigh lifted and their
eyes began to sharpen towards getting the victory. Their coach Paul
Rowley re-introduced a couple of key men and Ben Reynolds in
particular played a big role in their late rally.
Liam Kay managed to complete his hat-trick with a try six
minutes from the end and with Reynolds converting they now led
18-14 and fought hard to see that through to the end.
So a defeat is not good on paper but the reality is
that it doesn't matter. Ahead of 2013 double season Wigan lost
32-10 at Hull KR and 20-0 at Warrington but started the season with
a 42-0 win at Salford. It's all about the bigger picture of
building fitness and the small things we learnt.
Taulima Tautai came on after 20 minutes and had two
spells. He was looking keen to make offloads but his two attempts
led to errors but you could argue this was more down to his team
mates not expecting the option. Larne Patrick started and looked
George Williams didn't really catch the eye to be
honest, compared to Ryan Hampshire especially, but you can't judge
him off this one solo performance.
I thought Logan Tomkins, James Greenwood and Ryan
Sutton did well in the good spell early second half but the fact we
matched them for tries but not on goal kicking will perhaps worry
the Wigan fans most. Not that it matters here, but it could well do
further down the line.