The Ladbrokes Challenge Cup got underway with an all National Conference League clash between Leigh Miners Rangers and Wigan St Patricks at the Twist Lane ground. The game had been chosen as the focus game of the round and would be shown live by the BBC as part of their enhanced coverage of the 2017 competition.
One of sixteen first round fixtures, the winners would be embarking on a gruelling sequence of games which could see them pitted against semi-pro and then professional sides as they progressed through the competition.
The sides had been evenly matched in the opening exchanges with strong defences foiling attacks from both sides in heavy underfoot conditions. Their were seventeen minutes on the clock when Wigan St Patricks opened the scoring when Jack Winnard went down the left wing to go over in the corner. James Ratcliffe brilliantly kicked the conversion from the touchline for a 6-0 lead.
Mike Scrivens was sin-binned for St Patricks just after the half-hour for a high tackle, and two minutes later Rangers Michael O'Boyle found space wide left to step past the Wigan defence and ground. Jonathan Youds failed to add the conversion.
Just before the interval, Leigh conceded a penalty on their own twenty after interference at the play-the-ball which Youds kicked to level up the scores at 6-6.
Four minutes into the second half and St Patricks centre Danny Riding found his way over the line despite the attention of Four Leigh tacklers. Radcliffe was well wide with the conversion attempt leaving his side with a four point lead.
On fifty Leigh's Jack Reynolds scored a great individual try with a diagonal run through the St Patricks defence to dive over twenty from the left upright. Youds added the extras for 12-10 to the home side.
A criminal knock-on, in deteriorating conditions, from St Patricks full back Spence gifted possession to Leigh close to the line but the home side couldn't make it count.
St Pats were back in the lead on thirty-three when Phil Mitchell found his way to the line for a solo try, and when James Radcliffe kicked the extras the visitors had a 16-12 lead. Some clumsiness and panic in the closing minutes cost Leigh crucial ball, and St Patricks held on for a narrow victory.
Leigh's Jack Reynolds was named as Man of the Match as his side went out, Wigan St Patricks making it into the second round draw.
Leigh Miners Rangers: Youds (2G), Ashworth, Ratcliffe, Ellis, O'Boyle (T), Reynolds (T), Ward, Bower, Lloyd, Kay, Gray, Nicholson, Farrimond. Subs: Brogan, Rowlands, Philbin, Astley.
Wigan St Patricks: Spence, Radcliffe (2G), Woodcock, Riding (T), Winnard (T), Baxter, Scrivens (SB), Bristoe, Cunningham, Harrison, Higham, Gannon, Mitchell (T). Subs: Griffiths, Ashall, Glover, Leiper.
Referee: Scott Mikalausicas.