Leigh Centurions 20 Warrington Wolves 34
An Adam Higson double was the highlight of Leigh Centurions’ performance as once again they gave a good account when battling hard against Super League opposition.
This time the opposition was, in the shape of last year’s beaten Grand Finalists, Warrington Wolves.
It wasn’t the strongest of Warrington sides but they had several key players on show including debuts for winter signings Roy Asotasi and Anthony England alongside others such as Stefan Ratchford, Ben Currie and Leigh born Micky Higham in a quick and powerful side that included plenty of others with first team experience.
Leigh had the better of the first half and thanks to some impressive finishing from Higson, great running from Alex Brown and sheer hard graft from Tom Spencer, Ryan Duffy and Matt Sarsfield in the pack; this game was never beyond them until the dying few minutes.
Once again Ryan Brierley and Martyn Ridyard showed their class at half back with Bob Beswick looking sharp during his time on the field while there was welcome game time for Martin Aspinwall and most recent acquirement, Kurt Haggerty.
Of course the fans will point to four defeats in the warm up games, but with the key goal being to give players game time against quality opposition, Leigh will have benefitted immensely from the opportunity to play these Super League clubs and the promising signs, when the Centurions have their front liners on show, is there for all to see and enjoy.
The Wolves opened sharply and after exerting the pressure to force the penalty, Warrington shipped the ball right where former on loan Leigh player, Rhys Evans was able to send Kevin Penny sliding in at the corner for a third minute try. Gareth O’Brien goaled.
But Leigh hit back with a try of sheer class on 12 minutes when Ridyard worked the ball to Littler just outside the Leigh 20 and he then put Higson away before taking the return.
Littler then set Brierley in from 30 metres for a magnificent try that Ridyard goaled to level.
A Ridyard intercept saved a certain score before his 40/20 set up field position for the ball to be worked wide with a great Brierley run.
Then Beswick and Littler combined to put Higson in at the corner for the try grabbing lead to which Ridyard added the touchline conversion.
Another Wolves penalty gave them good position and again they utilised it with experienced half back O’Brien looping a pass to Kenny for him to hare in at the corner for his second try on 21 minutes.
O’Brien goaled to level once more.
It was developing into a gripping contest and Littler should perhaps have broken the deadlock when being put through by Brierley on the half way mark, but he spilled the pass and the chance was missed.
Then Beswick was tackled with his nose on the whitewash; McNally passed over Higson’s head with the line begging and Beswick was held over the line as Leigh looked for the breakthrough.
With four minutes to the break it finally came when Higson displayed superb handling skills to snap up Littler’s pass round his ankles to squeeze in at the corner for a try Ridyard couldn’t goal, and Leigh went in leading 16-12 at the break.
Warrington opened superbly in the second spell and took the lead with O’Brien’s third goal on 43 minutes following a superb inside ball from Ben Currie that sent full back Jordan Burke haring under the posts.
Penny then completed his hat trick with another try under the sticks for a fourth O’Brien goal and Leigh were up against it.
Not for the first time in these pre-season games, Leigh showed character by hitting back when Ryan Duffy powered over from a Mick Govin pass, but the try was unconverted.
Both sides started to make the interchanges frequently and the continuity went with it, but centre Ryan Shaw increased the visitors lead.
Lewis Foster and Chris Hankinson joined the fray and worked hard but the game was finally put beyond Leigh’s reach with four minutes remaining when young Joe Philbin crossed and O’Brien added his fifth goal.
Leigh Centurions: McNally, Higson, Littler, Armstrong, Brown, Ridyard, Brierley, Spencer, Beswick, Duffy, Sarsfield, Thornley, Barlow. Subs: Foster, Hankinson, Acton, Emmitt, Kay, Haggerty, Gardner, Bate, Aspinwall, Maden, Govin.
Tries: Brierley (12), Higson (17, 36), Duffy (51). Goals: Ridyard 2/4
Warrington Wolves: Burke, Ormsby, Shaw, Evans, Penny, Currie, O’Brien, England, Dwyer, Riley, Bridge, Laithwaite, Evans. Subs: Walker, Patton, Ratchford, Asotasi, Higham, Johnson, T King, G King, Ackers, Philbin.
Tries: Penny (3, 21, 44), Burke (42), Shaw (63), Philbin (76). Goals: O’Brien 5/6
Referee: Chris Kendall; Half Time: 16-12; Attendance: 2,139