Leigh 50 Wigan 34

George Williams goes over
George Williams goes over

Wigan’s woes deepened in dramatic style after they crashed to an embarrassing derby defeat at Leigh.

A late flourish, which produced tries by Joe Burgess and Josh Ganson, flattered the scoreline but proved scant consolation for the Warriors fans who had watched the side get frequently picked apart.

It leaves Wigan without a Super League win in their last seven matches, and in danger of slipping closer to the bottom-four once this round of fixtures have been complete.

They turn their focus to their Challenge Cup tie at Warrington next weekend with issues to address - not least their leaky defence.

Scoring points has not been a problem for Wigan, even in their winless streak - and that again proved the case, with Josh Ganson finishing with two of their seven tries.

But their defence caved under pressure as the Centurions registered eight tries to record the club’s first derby win in more than three decades.

The Warriors lacked guidance and grit, and really were soft in defence; in a 10-minute spell in the second-half, they let in three tries from dummy-half darts close to the line.

Ben Reynolds was majestic with the boot, kicking nine goals, while Wigan’s problems with the boot continued. But the home side were certainly deserved victors, bullying and dominating their opposing pack, and adding the champions’ scalp to those of St Helens, Warrington and Hull FC.

It was the second time Wigan had leaked 50 points this year - after a mauling at Castleford - and Wane will be hoping the fit-again players he can drip-feed back into the side this month will result in a shift in fortunes.

As expected, centre Oliver Gildart returned from a three-month lay-off but two players from Saturday’s 39-26 loss to Hull FC - Sam Powell (concussion) and Liam Farrell (suspension) - dropped out.

Leigh, who had lost 10 of their last 11 Super League matches, had Harrison Hansen playing his 350th game against the club where he started his career.

None of the current Wigan players were born the last time Leigh won a derby back in 1984.

The Warriors had won their last 19 competitive meetings since, but they headed into this Thursday night TV game with a feeling of nervousness, having not won in six Super League matches - they needed the win as much for confidence as for competition points.

But by half-time, they trailed 20-14 - having been 18-4 down at one stage.

Both sides scored three tries each, but again the Warriors’ poor goal-kicking let them down.

Leigh dominated in terms of territory, and on that front, Wigan’s poor clearing kicks did them no favours. The home side, by contrast, were able to force repeat sets or peg the visitors back onto their line far more often.

It had all started so brightly for the visitors, with Liam Marshall collecting Gildart’s pass to cross for his 18th Super League try in the fourth minute.

But their next set was a mess, finishing with Leuluai kicking out on the full. And that led to a spell defending their own line, the momentum shifted, and Leigh scored their three tries in a 10-minute purple-patch from the 14th minute.

Burgess had collected Leuluai’s kick, but his pass to Tom Davies was picked out by ex-Warrior Ryan Hampshire, who raced 80m and evaded the covering Lewis Tierney. Leigh continued to capitalise on the visitors’ errors.

Ryan Sutton spilled the ball under heavy traffic and, from that position, Leigh crowded their left side and another ex-Wigan player - Danny Tickle - ran through a stretched line for a try which took him beyond the 2,500-career points mark.

And moments later, Josh Drinkwater’s floated kick was palmed down by Mitch Brown, and Lachlan Burr was on hand to score to make it 18-4.

But back-to-back penalties piggybacked Wigan down field and, from that position, replacement hooker Ganson drove over from dummy-half. Williams was off-target again, but from the next set, he swept over for a try he sparked after a nice exchange with Gildart, who showed wonderful poise and class.

Marshall took over the goal-kicking and was on target, cutting the margin to four-points. But Leigh finished strong and, enjoying the better territory, Reynolds kicked a penalty which gave Leigh a six-point margin at the break.

Wigan started the second-half like the first - bright, and by scoring within five minutes.

Gildart finished off a crisp, quick cascading shift to the left, even if they were lucky to get the feed from the scrum. Marshall’s conversion attempt was off-target, making it 20-18.

But a spill by Tautai again put them under pressure, and Leigh pounced with three tries from short-range, dummy-half darts to leave the visitors with a mountain to climb.

Brown wriggled over, and then Liam Hood followed suit with two tries in four minutes - the first was given the green-light by the video referee despite calls it was short - to make it 38-18 to the home side.

But they won the ball back from a short restart and, with Williams sparking, Frank-Paul Nuuausala crashed over under the sticks for a try which Marshall converted.

The revival was all-too-short and, after the Warriors relapsed into making the same errors which had haunted them all night, Cory Paterson extended Leigh’s lead to 44-24 before Matty Dawson nudged them to the half-century mark. Joe Burgess’ late try, from Williams’ measured kick, proved scant consolation.

Leigh: McNally; Dawson, Brown, Paterson, Hampshire; Reynolds, Drinkwater; Acton, Pelissier, Weston, Tickle, Hansen, Stewart. Subs: Hood, Maria, Burr, Hopkins

Wigan: Tierney; Davies, Burgess, Gildart, Marshall; Williams, Leuluai; Nuuausala, McIlorum, Sutton, Isa, Wells, J Tomkins. Subs: Tautai, Navarrete, Ganson, Forsyth.

Referee: Robert Hicks

Half-time: 14-20

Attendance: 7,080