After taking a drubbing at the hands of Hull FC last weekend, Leigh Centurions would not have been relishing a trip to the Halliwell-Jones Stadium to take on a Warrington Wolves side who were in fine form and themselves looking for a fifth consecutive win.
The Centurions were still pointless in their first season back in the top flight and in fear of being cut adrift by Wakefield Trinity and the Salford Red Devils who are currently four points ahead of them in the league table, but with Warrington missing several players to the England against Combined Nations game tomorrow night, this was their chance to spring a surprise.
Leigh had an eighteen-point start on the coupon, and for the straight win the home side were massive favourites, but a win was unlikely to change their league position unless Wakefield could get an unlikely win against Wigan.
A high tackle from Tyrone McCarthy after just three minutes looked like it would a gift Warrington the lead Gareth Widdop missed the penalty. On the next tackle McCarthy was flattened by Sitaleki Akauola and was helped from the field for a head impact assessment, which he failed.
Blake Austin registered the first point of the game after throwing a dummy ten metres out and then having the power to get over the touchline to ground the ball. Widdop was able to add the extras for a 6-0 lead with ten on the clock.
After a rare Leigh foray into the Wolves half, and having forced a drop-out, the home side went in again for their second as Matt Davis found an alarmingly large gap in the Centurions defence to go in by the sticks. Widdop kicked the conversion for 12-0, Leigh with nothing to show for their endeavours.
A Widdop penalty, after the Leigh defender moved from marker, edged the lead out to fourteen points at the interval. The Wolves giving their opposition and taking the points when they were on offer.
It was a tremendous start to the second half for the Centurions when Liam Hood muscled his way over the line and managed to get the ball onto the ground over the whitewash. Ryan Brierley added the conversion and the Wolves lead was back to eight points.
Within two minutes a flowing move from Warrington ended with the ball in the hands of Widdop who slid over the line and managed to get the ball on the ground under the tackle of two Leigh defenders. He converted his own try for 20-6.
The Wolves made sure of the points on fifty-two, Josh Charnley taking a long and looping pass to the wing for a walk in by the right corner flag. Widdop did brilliantly to add the touchline conversion.
Junior Sa’u somehow managed to get the ball on the ground over the line after carrying three Wolves tacklers over ten metres. Referee Smith pointed at the spot and when Brierley added the conversion it was 12-26.
On sixty-three Danny Walker scooted from acting half back, dropped a shoulder and went in from ten metres. Widdop added the conversion for 32-12, and spark of a Leigh fightback now extinguished.
Eribe Doro opened his Warrington account when he took the crash ball and dropped over the line from close range for a four-pointer. Widdop added the conversion for 38-12 as Warrington kicked on and extended the winning margin.
A length of the field try from Tom Lineham, intercepting a wayward pass on his own line, brought up the forty. Widdop added the conversion for 44-12, bringing up a personal haul of twenty points.
Mark Ioane got a late consolation in the seventy-seventh minute, pushing through a tired Wolves defence. Brierley added the conversion as the last points of the game for 18-44.
This was a business-like win from a Warrington side who gave an opportunity to some of their talented youngsters in the absence of players on international duty. Leigh’s 2021 nightmare continues as they make it eleven games without a win in Super League and a big shock win by Wakefield Trinity over Wigan Warriors will add to their woes, while Warrington took full advantage to go into third spot in the league table with another great performance.
Warrington Wolves: Thewlis, Lineham (T), Mamo, Wrench, Charnley (T), Austin (T), Widdop (T, 8G), Hill, Walker (T), Akauola, Longstaff, Hughes, Davis (T). Subs: Butler, Dean, Doro (T), Robson.
Leigh Centurions: Brierley (3G), Mullen, Sa’u (T), Thornley, Russell, Reynolds, Mellor, Ioane (T), Hood (T), McCarthy, Hellewell, Gee, Bell. Subs: Thompson, Wildie, Peteru, Mason.
Referee: Jack Smith.
Score Progression: 4-0, 6-0, 10-0, 12-0, 14-0 : HT : 14-4, 14-6, 18-6, 20-6, 24-6, 26-6, 26-10, 26-12, 30-12, 32-12, 36-12, 38-12, 42-12, 44-12, 44-16, 44-18 : FT.