Match reports / Rugby League

Match report: Leigh Centurions 22-8 Warrington Wolves

The Centurions have already eclipsed their only previous Super League tally of five points.

The Centurions continued to maintain an impressive home record, Warrington being the latest scalp as Leigh eased to a 22-8 victory at the Leigh Sports Village.

Neil Jukes has seen his side win three of their four matches at home and the latest victory ended a 29-year run without beating the Wolves – Leigh’s last victory against Warrington was a 28-5 Stones Bitter Championship win at Hilton Park.

Glenn Stewart returned from injury to make his first appearance in the back row since the opening round defeat away to Castleford whilst Gareth Hock replaced Danny Tickle in the other change for the Centurions.

In a bid to end a disappointing run of four straight Super League defeats, Warrington head coach Tony Smith made wholesale changes, the most notable being the inclusion of captain Chris Hill for the first time this season.

Kurt Gidley moved back into his preferred position in the halves with Jack Johnson coming in at full-back, while Rhys Evans replaced Matty Blythe at centre.

As for the Wire they are yet to register a single point after matches, making it their worst start to a season since 2009. The Wolves have suffered defeats by Castleford, Salford, Catalan and were more recently put to the sword by Wigan, as 20-year-old Liam Marshall ran in four tries on the way to a 38-16 win for the Warriors.

Warrington have been punished for their ill-discipline in recent games and Leigh took full advantage of Jack Hughes conceding an early penalty, Hock crashing over after Micky Higham’s pass out of dummy-half. Ben Reynolds slotted the conversion to add the extras.

Stewart quickly started to show the difference he can make, forcing a knock on from Kurt Gidley following his strong tackle before Ben Crooks picked up the loose ball and grounded his own chip pass in the corner.

23 minutes gone and Jack Hughes thought he had registered Warrington’s first try but it was disallowed by the video referee after Matty Russell was penalized for a knock on.

The Wolves, who had struggled to create any pressure around Leigh’s try line, fell further behind when Reynolds sent another kick between the posts to give the Centurions a 12-0 lead with two minutes to go before the break.

Leigh had been helped by the vast amount of penalties their opponents had conceded in the first half so Centurions’ boss Neil Jukes would have been furious with Atelea Vea giving one away – allowing Gidley to register Warrington’s first points.

Kevin Brown fumbled the ball two minutes into the second half, almost handing Leigh another opportunity to increase their margin, Matty Dawson crashing over before it was ruled out after Mitch Brown’s pass was forward.

Warrington couldn’t find a way through the Leigh defence before half-time but had a helping hand in changing that after the break when Stewart was sent to the sin bin for a clattering high tackle – which left the Wire half-back momentarily dazed on the floor.

Daryl Clark looked to have made the extra man count but lost control of the ball inches from the ground leading the video referee to extend the Wire’s wait for their first try.

The Wolves were also temporarily reduced to 12 men when Tom Lineham saw the red mist, launching an elbow into the face of Ryan Hampshire, who didn’t even have possession of the ball.

Warrington were forced to concede another goal-line drop out thanks to a testing kick from Josh Drinkwater which moments later resulted in Adam Higson taking Crooks’ pass and sliding across in the corner.

The Wolves finally got over the line with 10 minutes left, a clear indicator of their inability to breach Leigh’s defence, Lineham taking a raking pass from Gidley before grounding the ball.

With the intention of seeing the game out, Reynolds went for goal and arrowed the ball between the sticks after Lineham was the latest culprit responsible for conceding another penalty. Warrington tried to desperately find a way through the seemingly inpenetrable Leigh line but were unsuccesssful as the Centurions finished the game comfortable 22-8 winners.

Next up for the Wire is a trip to St Helens, who have also made a poor start with just a narrow 6-4 opening night victory against Leeds Rhinos the only time Saints boss Keiron Cunningham has seen his side claim two points in 2017.

The Beaumont Legal Stadium is the next stop for Neil Jukes’ men with Wakefield currently occupying eighth place after picking up two wins out of their opening four matches, including a dramatic 24-22 win against Salford last week.

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