Still without a win in Super League 2021 the Leigh Centurions travelled to the DW Stadium to take on a Wigan Warriors side who are also not having everything their own way after a great start to the year has recently headed downhill.
John Bateman was back for the home side, and would start off the bench for a Wigan side who could not improve their league position, but for whom a victory would give them some breathing space in fourth.
A first win for Leigh would give them a glimmer of hope of avoiding the drop, out of Super League, in a couple of months’ time but without several first teamers, and the bookies giving them a twenty-two point start on the coupon, it seemed unlikely.
Tommy Leuluai exploited some poor defence from the Centurions as early as the fourth minute with the half-back throwing a dummy before going through a gap and scoring in the corner. Harry Smith got his eye in early with a touchline conversion for 6-0, a poor start from the visitors.
The Centurions hit back on eight minutes with Liam Hood scrambling over from close range with a scoot from dummy half. Jamie Ellis added the goal to lock the sides back together at 6-6.
In a tit-for-tat opening Umyla Hanley went in down the right side off a Jackson Hastings pass and squeezed past the Leigh defence to score in the corner. Smith was again accurate from the touchline.
After the restart a mass brawl broke out in mid-field with Jack Ashworth and Brad Singleton being red-carded, both sides down to twelve for the remainder of the game.
After twenty-seven minutes Liam Farrell had a stroll in try after a great break from Bateman who then found Hastings for a touch pass into the hands of the scorer to go over by the left upright. Smith added the conversion for an 18-6 lead.
Three minutes before the break and Hasting and Farrell combined to give Hanley his second of the afternoon, again in the corner. Smith kicked his fourth goal of the afternoon from his four attempts.
As the final hooter sounded Smith stepped through the defence before finding Farrell in space to run over in the corner. Smith couldn’t add the conversion, but the home side were already home and hosed at 28-6.
The Leigh defence withstood great Wigan pressure until the fifty-third minute when Halsall finally found some space off a Shorrocks pass after stepping inside and then going over in the corner. Smith kicked another touchline conversion for 34-6.
Wigan started to turn on the style with Joe Shorrocks completing the last twenty metres of a flowing downfield move to score the seventh Wigan try of the afternoon. Smith couldn’t add the conversion from five metres in from the touchline, but Wigan were now coasting.
It was all too easy on sixty-eight with a great kick inside from Halsall into the path of Jackson Hasting who collected the pinpoint kick to walk in for a classy try. Smith added the conversion for 44-6.
Hanley got his hat-trick try with a couple of minutes remaining as he collected a grubber kick in the in-goal area to score. Smith
This was far from a polished Wigan performance, but they were way too strong for an understrength and down on their luck Leigh Centurions who, despite striking back early on, had little to offer in attack and who were all too weak in defence. The Warriors picked up a valuable win in their quest for a top four finish and will celebrate running in fifty points against the old enemy.
Wigan Warriors: Hastings (T), Hanley (3T), Bibby, Isa, Halsall (T), Smith (7G), Leuluai (T), Singleton (SO on 14), Powell, Partington, Farrell (2T), Pearce-Paul, Shorrocks (T). Subs: Bateman, Clark, Byrne, Bourouh.
Leigh Centurions: Elliot, Mullen, Thornley, Sa’u, Brand, Ellis (G), Mellor, Butler, Hood (T), Ioane, Gee, Hellewell, Thompson. Subs: Wildie, Ashworth (SO on 14), Sidlow, Gerrard.
Referee: Scott Mikalauskas.
Score Progression: 4-0, 6-0, 6-4, 6-6, 10-6, 12-6, (2 x SO), 16-6, 18-6, 22-6, 24-6, 28-6 : HT : 32-6, 34-6, 38-6, 42-6, 44-6, 48-6, 50-6 : FT.