Leigh 14 – 22 Wigan

Micky Higham bowed out after a Stellar playing career, starting and finishing a fiercely fought and highly competitive Warm Up Game as both sides defied the Arctic conditions to put on a fitting spectacle.

After leading out the Centurions to a guard of honour from both teams and officials accompanied by sons Alex and Harry, Higham brought the curtain down on his playing days on an emotional day.

Higham was presented with his shirt by Rugby League legend Adrian Morley in the Centurions dressing room an hour before kick-off while another great friend, ex-Leigh favourite Chris Hill was guest of honour in Premier Club.

Hill and Morley later joined Centurions owner Derek Beaumont on stage post match to make a special presentation and Wigan generously joined in the act, coach Shaun Wane making a presentation to their former player after he was invited into the away dressing room post match.

Leigh’s new look side, including 14 players making their first appearances in the Cherry and White went desperately close to repeating last season’s victory in the traditional pre season opener.

But a strong Wigan side, lacking only Sean O’Loughlin, John Bateman and Dom Manfredi from their first choice line-up shaded the verdict after a thrilling game despite the icy conditions.

Jordan Thompson was one of the new boys to impress and won the Leigh Centurions Man of the Match award from match sponsors JRs Taxis. The former Castleford and Hull back rower was outstanding.

Former Junior Kangaroo halfback Drew Hutchison won the Arthur Thomas Memorial Trophy in honour of the highly respected former Leigh and Wigan chairman. Hutchison, playing his first full game for over a year after recovering from a serious knee injury showed the potential that should make his new halfback partnership with Ben Reynolds well worth watching.

It was 10-10 at the break after big prop Paterika Vaivai ploughed over by the posts and Peter Matautia finished off a flowing move out wide. Wigan replied with tries by Sam Tomkins and Oliver Gildart.

Gabriel Hamlin and a late Jake Shorrocks try won the game for Wigan but Leigh were in contention throughout, the impressive Jack Owens scoring by the flag and Ilias Bergal having another score disallowed.

Jamie Acton marked his return from suspension with a typically explosive display while fullback Craig Hall, Liam Hood, Jonah Cunningham and Jordan Dezaria were among the other stand-outs.

But this was Micky Higham’s day and a fitting finale to the playing career of a true Leigh born legend who has scaled the game’s greatest peaks and kept the same cap size he had as a teenager.

Before the start of the game the players, officials and supporters observed one minute’s silence in memory of the Leigh players and supporters who had passed away over the winter.

These included all-time record Club try-scorer Mick Martyn, long serving player and coach Tommy Grainey, 1971 Cup Final hero Derek Watts, 1960s favourite Stan Walmsley and the great servant to the game, Geoff Fletcher. Watts and Fletcher were also, of course, notable ex Wigan players. Supporters also remembered included brave teenager Tyler Yates and 99-year-old former war hero Tom Boardman.

Leigh Centurions:
1 Craig Hall; 2 Matty Dawson, 3 Ben Crooks, 4 Peter Matautia, 25 Ilias Bergal; 6 Ben Reynolds, 7 Drew Hutchison; 8 Paterika Vaivai, #9 Micky Higham, 10 Jamie Acton, 11 Kevin Larroyer, 13 Harrison Hansen, 15 Jordan Thompson.

Interchange:
9 Daniel Mortimer, 17 Kyle Lovett, 20 Greg Richards, 23 Jonah Cunningham, 14 Liam Hood, 19 Jack Owens, 21 Nick Gregson, 24 Jack Blagbrough, 16 Larne Patrick, 26 Jordan Dezaria.

Tries: Vaivai (8), Matautia (37), Owens (58);
Goals; Reynolds 1/ 3.

Wigan Warriors:
1 Sam Tomkins; 2 Tom Davies, 3 Dan Sarginson, 4 Oliver Gildart, 5 Joe Burgess; 6 George Williams, 7 Sam Powell; 8 Tony Clubb, 9 Thomas Leuluai, 10 Ben Flower, 11 Joel Tomkins, 12 Liam Farrell, 15 Ryan Sutton.

Interchange:
20 Morgan Escare, 27 Callum Field, 30 Gabriel Hamlin, 19 Willie Isa, 22 Liam Marshall, 38 Craig Mullen, 25 Roman Naverette, 16 Frank Paul Nuuausala, 24 Jake Shorrocks, 17 Taulima Tautai, 26 Jack Wells.

Tries: S Tomkins (15), Gildart (33), Hamlin (55), Shorrocks (78);
Goals: S Tomkins 2/ 3, Escare 1/ 1.

Referee: Robert Hicks;
Attendance: 4,509;
Half-time: 10-10;
Penalty count: 9-8.

Leigh Centurions Man of the Match: Jordan Thompson (Main Match sponsors: JRs@Avacab)
Arthur Thomas Memorial Trophy: Drew Hutchison.

Main Match sponsors: JRs@Avacab;
Associate match sponsors: PremierSport.org.

Related posts