Leigh 50 – 34 Wigan

Leigh Centurions earned their first victory over Wigan since 1984 as they reached a half-century of points for the first time in the Betfred Super League and for the first time ever against their old rivals.

On an emotional evening at LSV Harrison Hansen, captain for the evening, marked his 350th career appearance in fitting style against the club with whom he won a league and cup double four years ago.

Another Wigan old boy Danny Tickle scored a first-half try that saw him move though the 2,500 points barrier in his 455th career game.

And ex-Wigan halfback Ryan Hampshire, forced to play out of position on the wing due to Leigh’s injury crisis scored a brilliant 80 metre try.

Ben Reynolds had his finest game in a Centurions jersey, topped by his unerring marksmanship that saw him hit nine goals from as many attempts.

Matty Dawson took his tally to eight tries in his last six games in a fine performance that earned him the sponsors’ Man of the Match award.

Liam Hood came back from a debilitating virus to score two close range tries early in the second half that turned the game Leigh’s way.

Leigh Centurions Head Coach Neil Jukes, 20 years on from the day when his Leigh playing career was ended by a badly broken ankle, reflected on an important victory. He said: “It’s probably my biggest win as Leigh coach. It’s a big win for me, the club and the town. It was more than two points for us and our fans.

“I am really pleased. Even through this tough period, the guys have been turning up for each other every week though results might suggest they don’t. They are a good team, a tough team and they work hard. We have not been far off in recent weeks with the ball in hand in particular. We showed a really good mentality and we got rid of a lot of the scruffiness in our game to put an 80-minute performance together.

“The staff have been working incredibly hard in this tough period. Derek Beaumont in particular has been outstanding with me and he has understood the journey we are on. The fans have been brilliant again and I was glad we gave a performance for them.

“We had only 18 players available for this game- and that after Harrison passed a head test at 6pm yesterday. We had guys playing out of position and coming back from illness and injury and it showed that the guys do turn up for each other every week. We had some spells where we conceded back to back tries in quick succession but we recovered and got back in the grind.”

It was a thrilling game of 15 tries, Leigh fighting back from conceding an early score to the prolific Liam Marshall to post tries in front of the North Stand through Hampshire, Tickle and Lachlan Burr while all the time Reynolds was in superb kicking form. Wigan fought back with quick-fire tries by Josh Ganson and George Williams but Reynolds’ penalty just before half-time gave the home side a 20-14 lead.

Within four minutes of the re-start Oliver Gildart, in superb form throughout, marked his return from a long injury lay-off with a try to cut the deficit to just two points But the Centurions then seized control of the game with three tries in ten minutes, all from close range, with Mitch Brown forcing his way over before Hood twice broke the Warriors defence from dummy half.

Frank-Paul Nuuausala’s converted try just before the hour-mark got Wigan back to 38-24 and Marshall then went close in the corner before Cory Paterson stretched over to effectively clinch the game for Leigh. Dawson marked his golden run of form with his side’s eighth try and Reynolds kept his nerve and converted from the touch-line to bring up the half-century.

Late tries by Joe Burgess and Ganson showed the Warriors’ fighting spirit to the end but to no avail.

Wigan head coach Shaun Wane said: ” “I don’t want to make excuses because Leigh were good.

“We defended lots of sets really, really well, forced errors, but our decision making on our own line was ordinary. When I show the players tomorrow they’ll be wounded when they see how easily it can be fixed.

“We’re hurting really badly, too many bad losses, but we’re a strong group and everybody in that dressing room knows we can get back.”

Leigh Centurions: Gregg McNally; Matty Dawson, Mitch Brown, Cory Paterson, Ryan Hampshire; Ben Reynolds, Josh Drinkwater; Jamie Acton, Eloi Pelissier, Dayne Weston, Danny Tickle, Harrison Hansen (capt), Glenn Stewart. Interchange: Liam Hood, Antoni Maria, Lachlan Burr, Sam Hopkins.

Tries: Hampshire (15), Tickle (20), Burr (25), Brown (48), Hood (54, 57), Paterson (63), Dawson (73);
Reynolds 9/ 9.

Wigan Warriors: Lewis Tierney; Tom Davies, Joe Burgess, Oliver Gildart, Liam Marshall; George Williams, Thomas Leuluai (capt); Frank-Paul Nuuausala, Michael McIlorum, Ryan Sutton, Willie Isa, Jack Wells, Joel Tomkins. Interchange: Taulima Tautai, Roaman Navarrete, Josh Ganson, Liam Forsyth.

Tries: Marshall (4), Ganson (33, 79), Williams (34), Gildart (44), Nuuausala (59), Burgess(78).
Goals: Williams 0/ 2, Marshall 3/ 5.

Referee: Robert Hicks;
Attendance: 7,080;
Half-time: 20-14.
Main Match Sponsor: Palatine Paints
Associate Sponsor: Haydock Park
Matchball Sponsor: Astley Hire
Programme Sponsor: Welch Mill
Leigh Centurions Man of the Match: Matty Dawson Matchday
Mascots: Rocky Beaumont, Billy Phoenix, Amy Huyton

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