|Leigh (6) 6|
|Try: Lam Goal: Reynolds|
|Wigan (10) 10|
|Tries: Field, Wardle Goal: Smith|
Wigan Warriors clinched Super League’s 2023 League Leaders’ Shield as they edged out rivals Leigh Leopards 10-6 on a tense night at Leigh Sports Village.
In an edgy match, during which there was no score by either side in the second half, Wigan held on to register their first league triumph since 2020.
Jai Field weaved Wigan ahead and Jake Wardle extended their lead but Lachlan Lam cut the deficit by half-time.
Oliver Gildart had a try ruled out but Leigh could not find a comeback.
Wigan’s victory means they finish level on points with second-placed Catalans and third-placed St Helens after a remarkable end-of-season title race and take the League Leaders’ Shield on points difference.
Having weathered a terrific Leigh performance in front of a partisan and record home crowd of 10,308, Warriors’ reward for seeing out the win and ensuring first place is a week off before their home semi-final against the lowest-ranked winner from next weekend’s eliminators.
It was a bitter defeat for Leigh as, in combination with Hull KR’s resounding win over Wakefield, they slipped to fifth in the table at the end of the regular season, leading to them losing home advantage for their eliminator tie against the Robins in seven days’ time.
Wigan weather Leigh pressure to see out victory
Field settled Wigan’s nerves when he scored after 18 minutes in impressive fashion, having wrongfooted Ed Chamberlain, Ben Reynolds and Tom Briscoe to touch down for the visitors.
That try kick-started Wigan’s half and Wardle crashed over for their second following good work from Field and Harry Smith in the build-up, although Smith swung his conversion attempt wide.
Sensing the game was still in the balance, a spell of Leigh pressure almost counted when Josh Charnley raced to the corner but he was denied by some monumental defensive work by Wigan and was hauled into touch.
Just minutes later, however, Lam pounced and got the Leopards on the scoreboard when he dived in behind the sticks to give them a much-needed confidence boost right before the break.
Leigh began the second half well and thought they had drawn level when Oliver Gildart went over against his former club.
However, referee Liam Moore ruled the try out on-field for an obstruction on Bevan French in the build-up, and video referee Marcus Griffiths was unable to find a camera angle to overrule him.
The Leopards piled on the pressure for the remainder of the match, but a well-organised and resolute Wigan defence kept them at bay as they held on to claim victory and carry their fine form into their play-off campaign.
Leigh: O’Brien; Briscoe, Gildart, Chamberlain, Charnley; Reynolds, Lam; Amone, Ipape, Mulhern, Hughes, O’Donnell, Wardle.
Interchanges: Mellor, Davis, Nakubuwai, Holmes.
Wigan: Field; Miski, King, Wardle, Marshall; French, Smith; Dupree, O’Neill, Ellis, Pearce-Paul, Farrell, Smithies.
Interchanges: Powell, Mago, Hill, Nsemba.
Referee: Liam Moore.
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