Leigh Centurions 18 Wigan Warriors 14

Josh Charnley slides over for a try
Josh Charnley slides over for a try

WIGAN were edged out 18-14 in an entertaining derby friendly at Leigh.

Tries by Joe Burgess and Ryan Hampshire had put the visitors on course for a win until Centurions winger Liam Kay snatched his hat-trick try late on.

The game - serving as a testimonial for Paul Prescott - gave a chance for both teams to blow away the cobwebs ahead of their new campaigns.

Warriors’ off-season recruits Taulima Tautai and Larne Patrick made strong contributions and, on early evidence, look shrewed acquisitions for 2015.

England Four Nations stars Joel Tomkins, Liam Farrell, Matty Smith and Liam Farrell all started for the Warriors.

There was a sprinkling of young talent in the 24-man squad, too, including Oliver Gildart and Kyle Shelford, whose fathers - Ian and Adrian respectively - played for Wigan nearly three decades earlier.

Despite the result, coach Shaun Wane sawa some positives from his side’s first hit-out in 2015.

He said: “We did some good things, but we weren’t consistent enough throughout the game.

“When we played with some composure we scored some points, so we know what we need to do.”

The game lured many home fans in the 4,000-strong crowd, all keen to watch their marquee recruit Fuifui Moimoi in action. The Kiwi made a solid contribution, but his fellow prop Jamie Acton - along with ex-Warrior Bob Beswick - offered more presence in an opening half which Leigh edged 12-4.

Josh Charnley put Wigan ahead inside 15 minutes, finishing off a scrum-base move in which Joel Tomkins - playing at centre - provided the final touch. Matty Smith missed the conversion attempt.

The visitors continued to cough up too much possession - and inside their own half - and Leigh took a 12-4 lead into half-time with a Liam Kay double, both converted by Ryan Brierley.

Shaun Wane made several changes at the break, and Wigan wasted little time in nodding back ahead.

Burgess - who scored four tries at the same stage, on the same stage a year ago - touched down from the unfamiliar role of centre.

Hampshire was unable to convert, but his piercing dart minutes later saw him soar over between the sticks, and he duly added the goal which put Wigan 14-12 ahead.

Leigh, however, finished the strongest and when Kay pounced for his hat-trick it put the home side 18-14 ahead - and give an entertaining derby a grandstand finish.

Wigan are next in action at St Helens on Sunday.

Leigh: McNally; Higgson, Worthington, Armstrong, Kay; Reynolds, Brierley; Moimoi, Beswick, Acton, Wilkes, Gouldon, Barlow.

Subs: Pitman, Penkywicz, Emmitt, Tracy, Pownall, Peet, Hopkins, Foster, Walker.

Wigan: Hampshire; Charnley, J Tomkins, Gildart, Manfredi; Williams, Smith; Crosby, McIlorum, Sutton, Farrell, Bateman, Patrick.

Subs: Burgess, Bowen, L Tomkins, Tautai, Farrell, Greenwood, Lever, Tierney, Shorrocks, Doran, Shelford.