Wigan made it three from three in the Super League with a 20 – 0 victory in the “Battle of the Borough” against Leigh Centurions at the DW Stadium on Friday night – the first league meeting between the two for 12 years.
Conditions massively effected the game, with handling errors from both teams being a consistent theme throughout the game. Wigan handed a debut to Liam Marshall on the wing, who despite a couple of handling errors, looked solid and looks set to get a good run in the team with Joe Burgess and Lewis Tierney leaving the pitch early with injuries. After the game, Shaun Wane confirmed that Burgess, Tierney and Ryan Sutton had all gone to hospital for scans – with the next game being a repeat of last years Grand Final against Warrington, a real concern for Wigan.
Wigan opened the scoring through Anthony Gelling, as we tipped in our preview (Match Preview) – we hope we made some of you some money! The try came from a great bit of play from Man of the Match, George Williams. A kick through the line saw Tierney skilfully keep the ball in play, by kicking the ball back in field, away from the Leigh defender – resulting in a simple pick up for Willie Isa, who could of scored himself. Isa, offloaded the ball to Gelling who crossed the line under the posts, Escare converting to make it 6-0.
The rest of the first half was marred by the injuries and the reshuffling of the team by Shaun Wane, which led to Isa and Joel Tomkins playing centre, with Marshall and Gelling on the wings. The tight affair, mainly due to the persistent rain had few chances, Escare missed a penalty goal attempt from 40 metres before O’Loughlin missed with a drop goal attempt (Yes, thats not a typo!) before Escare also missed with a field goal attempt.
In the second half, Tony Clubb was stopped inches from the try line, with many in the South Stand thinking he had scored. However his run created a gap in the defence which George Williams took advantage of with one of his trademark jinking runs to cross the line on the next play, Escare converted to make it 12-0.
Williams was involved in the third Wigan try of the game, a try that was very similar to the Luke Gale assist against Leeds on Thursday night that had the Sky commentary team waxing lyrical over. A break from Williams was followed with a superb kick with the outside of his boot to find Gelling in acres of space, another easy finish for Gelling for his second try of the game and the season. Escare converted to make it 18-0 to the Warriors.
The rest of the game was fought out through the middle in the tough conditions, Wigan’s task made even harder by the fact that they only had one interchange player remaining due to the three injuries. The game saw one last flash point, with Gareth Hock giving away a penalty with a high shot on Frank-Paul Nuuausala; Escare adding the two points from the resulting penalty.
Despite George Williams winning the Man of the Match Award, its worth noting the role Morgan Escare had – another fine and impressive performance from the flying Frenchman and a great kicking display from him again. Wigan only signed him on a one year contract from Catalan Dragons – lets get that deal extended before they come back in for him.
All in all, job done by Wigan in difficult conditions and in particular due to the injuries picked up during the game. Next up, the Warrington Wolves at the Halliwell Jones on Thursday with Burgess, Tierney and Sutton potentially missing – plenty of opportunity for more of the Wigan academy graduates to get an opportunity.