Leigh Centurions 18 Wigan Warriors 20: Five things we learned

Five things we learned from Wigan's 20-18 victory against Leigh on the opening night...

Sunday, 28th March 2021, 11:17 am
Updated Sunday, 28th March 2021, 11:51 am
Sam Powell made 65 tackles

1. It wouldn't be a Wigan season without one crisis or another, and for some that arrived in the first half-hour of their opening game.

Their loose defence and poor handling gifted Leigh an 18-0 lead and for some fans (emotional, yes. Rational, no) the alarm bells were ringing.

But two tries before the break cut the deficit to 10 points and in the second-half, they slowly wrestled control to take a slender victory.

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It's dangerous to make predictions from one game, particularly their first game. What's important is registering the wins as they settle into the campaign, and they did that.

2. Is Sam Powell the most under-rated player in Super League?

Possibly, but Wigan and their supporters certainly value his contribution to the side.

The hooker motored through an astonishing 65 tackles to earn special praise from Adrian Lam. Homegrown forwards Ethan Havard, Liam Byrne and Ollie Partington were among the others to impress, while Zak Hardaker and Jake Bibby stood out among the backs.

3. It was a luckless debut for Jai Field, who limped off in the 19th minute with a hamstring tear and is facing a few weeks on the sidelines.

The Aussie was only on the wing as a trio of three-quarters (Liam Marshall, Dom Manfredi and Oliver Gildart) were injured, while No.1 Bevan French was on his way back.

And Lam will be hoping the RFL's match review panel don't charge any players, with Sky Sports' Barrie McDermott suggesting Thomas Leuluai may come under scrutiny for one knee-high tackle.

4. And the Dom Manfredi award goes to...

Young halfback Harry Smith was rewarded for his lively outing with the Sky Sports man of the match.

But when questioned by Jenna Brooks, he was left red-faced after the F-bomb slipped into one of his replies... reminiscent of Manfredi's similar faux pas on air!

He quickly apologised as injured winger Manfredi tweeted Smith: "Don't worry fella we've all been there!"

5. A word on Leigh. We knew they would start fast and probably fade but, even so, they're spirit was admirable.

The Centurions featured a clutch of newcomers and those who were already at the club hadn't played a competitive match in more than a year.

Many are predicting they will finish bottom this year, which is not necessarily an insult; London were impressive in 2019 and still got relegated. But if Leigh keep on performing like this, they may just surprise a few...