There is precious little romance left in the Challenge Cup, as Leigh will attest after this experience of the harsh realities of full-timers playing part-timers.
The Championship side competed bravely enough and had their moments, but, as expected, were totally out-played by a Wigan side for whom Sam Tomkins gleefully collected four tries and Pat Richards accumulated 30 points.
Recent portents were not good, with the Centurions leaking 60 points at another aspiring club, Halifax, last time out and several key players missing. Small wonder that Wigan’s Shaun Wane felt sufficiently confident to rest notables like Blake Green, Michael McIlorum and Liam Farrell and to introduce two debutants, James Greenwood and George Williams, on the bench. Wane said: “I am very happy with that performance. This is a very important competition to and happy to get through.
“I was impressed with Leigh and I have to commend them, I was pleased with a lot our execution especially when you consider near the end of the game we had possibly our youngest ever half-back combination in the history of the club with an 18-year-old and a 20-year-old.”
Remarkably the first few minutes belonged to Leigh. Their scrum-half Ryan Brierley made the first break of the match and had to be hauled down by Richards and Sam Tomkins. Unfortunately, that had the effect of rattling Wigan’s cage and they showed their irritation by scoring four tries in the next eight minutes from Josh Charnley, Richards twice, and Tomkins.
The Leigh captain, Rob Parker, pulled one back after an error by the other Tomkins, Logan, but his older brother had a hat-trick by half-time
Martyn Ridyard was close to a second for Leigh before Richards got his third, closely followed by Tomkins’ fourth. As seemed inevitable, Charnley made it a hat trick of hat-tricks.
Williams celebrated his first appearance with a try before Brierley got Leigh’s reward for sticking at their task.
Wigan S Tomkins; Charnley, Goulding, I Thornley, Richards; Powell, Smith; Flower, L Tomkins, Mossop, Hansen, Hughes, O’Loughlin Substitutes used Dudson, S Taylor, Williams, Greenwood.
Leigh McNally; Maden, Littler, Gardner, O’Donnell; Ridyard, Brierley; Ostick, Beswick, Parker, Finnigan, Briscoe, Hopkins; Substitutes used Penkywicz, Duffy, A Thornley, J Taylor. Referee: M Thomason (RFL)
Referee M Thomason.