Leigh Centurions 16 Wigan Warriors 30: Perfect Super League start continues

Jake Bibby's two tries helped Wigan preserve their perfect start in Super League - and silence the crowd at Leigh Sports Village.

Monday, 17th May 2021, 9:37 pm
Updated Monday, 17th May 2021, 9:42 pm
Winger Dom Manfredi goes over

A limited home crowd of around 1,600 was allowed in, the first time the Warriors had played in front of fans on UK soil in more than a year.

And while the vocal Centurions faithful saw their side take an early 10-0 lead - and draw 16-16 at the break - Adrian Lam's outfit flexed their muscles after the break to register an ultimately comfortable victory.

It wasn't a flawless display, but after their Challenge Cup exit to Hull the week before, many supporters would have taken this beforehand.

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Bevan French and Harry Smith celebrate a try

Bevan French and Jackson Hastings played pivotal roles in directing the attack and carving out the tries, with centre Bibby scoring two in the second-half to extend his tally to nine.

Dom Manfredi also marked his first start of the campaign with a touchdown while in the forwards, Liam Farrell and Ethan Havard were among those who caught the eye.

If it wasn't a shock to see French was restored to his favoured fullback role, but it was surprising to see Zak Hardaker shifted to the left wing, rather than centre. Mitch Clark replaced Joe Bullock for his first appearance of the year.

Leigh only had a limited crowd at the Sports Village but they made up for it with the noise, fuelling the home side's bright start.

The Centurions were helped by the visitors' indiscipline, which piggybacked the opponents down field time and again.

Ex-Warrior Anthony Gelling - playing despite being on trial for assault - struck first, finishing off in the right corner for a try which wasn't converted.

And then Nathan Mason took advantage of slack defending around the ruck, driving over for a 19th minute try which Ben Reynolds converted.

At that point, the game had echoes of the opening match, when John Duffy's side roared into an 18-0 lead only for Wigan to edge in control and take the win.

And sure enough, Lam's outfit settled into their groove to run in three tries and take the lead.

French was heavily involved, playing a key role in two and then scoring himself, as he launched the comeback by dinking the ball on for Harry Smith to regather and ground. Smith took over the goal-kicking duties from Hardaker, and his first conversion made it 10-6.

French sent Leyther Dom Manfredi over minutes later to lock the scores - the winger saw a previous break brought back for a forward pass.

And on the back of the punching drives of Liam Byrne and the impressive Havard, they marched down field again for French to turn from provider to scorer, weaving his way through a flapping defence to put the visitors 16-10 in front.

But just before the break, Leigh levelled it up when Ryan Brierley crabbed across the line and threaded a ball through for Jamie Ellis to touch down.

Farrell, back in his familiar backrow slot after a spell at centre, angled onto Hastings' slick pass early after the restart. Smith's goal made it 22-16. And with Wigan ramping up the pressure, Manfredi's angled break provided the position for Bibby to power over and wedge a 10 point gap between the sides. And after Morgan Smithies had limped out of the action it got even better for Bibby, who profited from a sweet cut-out pass from Hastings to grab his second and make it 30-16.

Leigh: Brierley; Gelling, Thornley, Sa'u, Tierney; Reynolds, Wildie; Mason, Hood, Ioane, Hellewell, Thompson, Bell. Subs: Peats, Peteru, McCarthy, Ellis.

Wigan: French; Manfredi, Isa, Bibby, Hardaker; Smith, Hastings; Singleton, Powell, Partington, Bateman, Farrell, Smithies. Subs: Byrne, Clark, Havard, Shorrocks.

Referee: Ben Thaler