LEIGH Centurions were denied a fairytale return to Super League when they saw an early 18-0 lead whittled away by Wigan.

The Centurions were on course for another famous victory, to match the one from 2017, after running in three tries without reply after 25 minutes.

But eventually Wigan got on top, clinching a 20-18 win 12 minutes from time.

Still building his squad having had precious little preparation time, Duffy gave debuts to nine players, including two youngsters on loan from St Helens, and watched them rock last year's Grand Final runners-up with their boundless energy and enthusiasm.

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They went in front in the sixth minute when captain Liam Hood forced his way over from dummy half and full-back Ryan Brierley converted the try.

In a rare Wigan attack, full-back Zak Hardaker was close to reaching Sam Powell's kick to the line but it was generally all Leigh in the first half-hour and half-back Joe Mellor was denied by a forward pass.

A second handling error by Bateman gifted the Centurions the position for Brierley to get former Wigan centre Iain Thornley over for his side's second try and it got even better for the new boys when Hood broke clear and kicked ahead for second-rower Ben Hellewell to touch down.

Brierley added a third conversion to make it 18-0 and Mellor missed a glorious chance to extend the lead when he failed to pick up a loose ball with daylight in front of him.

The miss began to look costly when the Warriors hit back with two tries in the last four minutes of the first half.

Bibby, who took Field's place on the right wing, took a pass from Isa to go over at the corner and then turned creator for Hardaker after Bateman had come up with a crucial pass.

Hardaker was unable to convert either of the tries, as Wigan trailed 18-8 at the break, but the momentum was clearly with them.

A rampaging Joe Bullock took a pass from half-back Harry Smith to score their third try after 62 minutes and three minutes later Hardaker broke spectacularly from deep inside his own half to get the supporting Bibby over for his second.

Hardaker kicked a second conversion to put the Warriors in front for the first time and they were able to withstand their opponents' late efforts to snatch the win.