Rugby League: Wigan lifted on shoulders of Britain's 21st century men: Offiah returns from injury with a try to help send Leigh to defeat as Bradford turn down the Kiwis' request to enlist Watson as stand-off

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The Independent Online
Wigan. .38

Leigh. .12

MARTIN OFFIAH marked his first game for five months with a try as Wigan went to the top of the First Division last night. Most of the damage on a Leigh side without a win this season, however, was inflicted by stars of the future.

Despite fielding virtually a reserve pack, Wigan took an early grip and gradually tightened it during the first half-hour.

Their younger forwards played a prominent part, Barrie-Jon Mather's pass sending in Shaun Edwards for one try and Andrew Farrell charging through unopposed for the second.

With Frano Botica in typically unforgiving mood with his goal- kicking, Wigan were 18-0 up before Leigh could make any impression.

A high kick dropped by Joe Lydon gave them their chance, with the former Wigan prop, Tim Street, enjoying one of the happier moments of a chequered career since leaving Central Park by setting up Troy Clarke for a converted try.

Farrell and Mather, a back-row combination that could take Wigan and Great Britain into the 21st century, created Wigan's third try, Offiah resisting the temptation to test his match fitness by going alone and sensibly turning the final ball inside to Gary Connolly.

Offiah chalked up his first try of a delayed season, another devastating break from Farrell creating the initial confusion. Offiah was within inches of a second on the hour, but the penalty conceded in the process of stopping him gave Botica his eighth goal from as many attempts.

Lax defence allowed Mark Sarsfield in for a converted try for Leigh but Martin Hall scurried under the posts to give Botica his ninth goal.

Wigan: Lydon; Robinson, Bell (Cassidy, 45), Connolly, Offiah; Botica, Edwards; Cowie, Dermott (Hall, 35), Gildart, Panapa, Mather, Farrell.

Leigh: Winstanley; Cawley, Sarsfield, Hanger (Pugsley, 45), Platt; Gunning, Donohue; Hansen, Pendlebury, Street, Booth (Costello, 52), Collier, Clarke.

Referee: S Nicholson (Whitehaven).

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