Leigh 28 Wigan 36

Wigan Warriors in action against the Centurions
Wigan Warriors in action against the Centurions

JOE Burgess presented a strong case for Wigan’s vacant left wing spot with a stunning four-try display.

The 19-year-old followed up a 23rd minute effort with three more during a whirlwind start to the second-half, as the Warriors got their 2014 off to a solid start.

Burgess, who figured twice for Shaun Wane’s side last year, is one of three players fighting to fill Pat Richards’ old position.

His second-half hat-trick was complemented by two tries from Dan Sarginson - one of three new signings to make debuts in the Warriors’ first game of the year.

Wigan, led out by Anthony Gelling, fell 4-0 down and trailed by the same margin at the break - despite taking a 12-4 lead midway through the opening half.

But three tries in eight whirlwind second-half minutes put Wigan in the driving seat.

Burgess scored two to complete his hat-trick - his opener, a scorching touchline sprint to finish off Hampshire’s break.

And then Sarginson got in on the act with a stunning solo try from inside his own half. He feigned a pass to winger Dom Manfredi, and had the power and pace to beat the swarming cover defence and score for a 48th minute touchdown.

With Hampshire converting two of those tries, the visitors led 28-16.

Sarginson again demonstrated his class minutes later, punishing a rapidly-tiring defence with neat footwork to wedge open a gap to exploit.

With confidence flowing through Wigan’s side, they kept their foot pressed firmly to the floor, pressuring Leigh’s line and taking further advantage through Burgess’ fourth try from Sam Powell’s angled chip.

But that was to be the last of the visitors’ scoring, and they spend most of the rest of the game clinging onto the lead.

A converted try by Adam Higson helped Leigh restore their credibility, before Brierley pounced when Lewis Tierney spilled a regulation high ball. With Ridyard adding both goals, Leigh trailed 36-28.

Manfredi saved a certain try by tracking down Brown to preserve Wigan’s eight-point lead. Ridyard was presented with the inaugural Arthur Thomas award as man of the match - in memory of the ex-Leigh and Wigan chairman.