Wigan Warriors 60
Leigh Centurions 10
Four tries from arguably the world’s best rugby league player, Sam Tomkins, highlighted the gulf between the Championship and Super League as Leigh crashed out of the Tetley’s Challenge Cup fourth round.
The Warriors back line was in sparkling form and there were hat tricks too for Josh Charnley and Pat Richards who also banged over eight goals for a 28 point haul to see Leigh fall by the exact same scoreline for the second week running.
But, unlike the previous weekend’s defeat at Halifax, Leigh were able to walk off with their heads held high as they gave the current Super League leaders more than a couple of anxious moments and put up some tremendous defence despite the eleven try Wigan haul, to give their fans plenty to sing about.
And sing they did, to lift a Rob Parker led pack that never took a backwards step.
This was always going to be a tough game for Leigh, especially after the previous weeks set back in the Championship. But they showed plenty of character to make Wigan work for their points in the first meeting between the clubs since 2005.
In fact Leigh almost silenced the home fans when a Ryan Brierley burst was only denied by a superb Tomkins tackle.
But on six minutes Charnley went in for the first of his three tries on the overlap after Tomkins and Matty Smith had combined. Within eight minutes three more touchdowns had been added to leave Leigh with a mountain to climb. The second try came on the restart as Richards was released and rounded Greg McNally for his first try. Then the ball was switched for Darrel Goulding to turn the ball inside for Tomkins to claim his first before more superb play saw Richards in for his second.
Leigh hadn’t touched the ball and with Richards goaling all but the first try, Leigh trailed 22-0.
But they were not prepared to give in and with Martyn Ridyard, Craig Briscoe and with Sean Penkywicz working hard, Leigh grabbed some reward when Parker bustled his way in for a Ridyard goaled score.
But it was to be a short respite as Tomkins against showed his mesmerising class with a second try for him off a Leigh error.
Leigh’s defence worked hard with Stuart Littler, Steve Maden, Sam Hopkins and Simon Finnigan getting through a lot of work before debutant George Williams created space for the England full back to claim his hat trick and a 32-6 interval lead for the Warriors.
The second half saw Wigan start ruthlessly with Charnley scoring within a couple of minutes of the restart. Ridyard was unlucky not to score at the other end, but Charnley chased back to dislodge the ball. Wigan then went upfield for Richard to complete his hat trick before Tomkins shot through for his fourth. Charnley then scored a scorcher of his own too complete his hat trick and Leigh were reeling.
But doggedly they stuck at their task and after Williams scored Wigan’s eleventh try, the ever dangerous Brierley showed he can score tries against the best of them when chipping ahead and winning the race for the kick to regather and touchdown. Wigan were through, Leigh were out, but far from down.
Tries: Charnley (6, 41, 56), Richards (9, 14, 49), S Tomkins (12, 31, 40, 52), Williams (58).
Goals: Richards 8/11
Leigh Centurions: McNally; Maden, Littler, Gardner, O’Donnell; Ridyard, Brierley; Ostick, Beswick, Parker, Finnigan, Briscoe, Hopkins; subs (all used): Penkywicz, Thornley, Taylor, Duffy.
Tries: Parker (18), Brierley (78)
Goals: Ridyard 1/2
Half time: 32-6
Referee: Matthew Thomason