WOLVES suffered a surprise 38-18 defeat to National League One side Leigh in their first pre-season friendly.

Wolves went into the Halliwell Jones clash without several senior players and fielded a youthful line-up including Mike Cooper, who was playing his first match since suffering a badly broken leg in May.

But Wolves still had 14 players with Super League experience involved and remained pre-match favourites before an error-strewn performance allowed Leigh to gain control and eventually run away with the match.

Leigh selected former Wolves players Mike Wainwright, Steve Maden and Dave Alstead - although Toa Kohe-Love was a late withdrawal because of illness - and brought a sizeable travelling support but fell behind in the seventh minute.

Wolves captain Lee Briers and Ben Westwood set up Andy Bracek, who sliced through the defence and stretched over for a try converted by Briers.

But Leigh responded three minutes later when Dennis Moran's kick found Maden in the corner and the visitors were ahead in the 14th minute as Aaron Smith twisted over from close range, with Ian Watson converting.

Wolves' disjointed start to the game continued when Moran put Lee Doran through a gap and Chris Bridge - still learning the ropes in his new position of full back - was too deep to stop the second rower crossing.

Doran then charged through another gaping hole in the Wolves line to make it 22-6 at half time.

Brief respite was provided at the interval by the introduction of new signings Matt King, Michael Monaghan, Chris Hicks and Louis Anderson to the crowd, which included Wasps coach and former Wigan star Shaun Edwards as well as ex-Australian international Craig Gower - a friend of Hicks who is now with French rugby union club Bayonne.

Former Wolves and Leigh player Ian Knott - now retired and suffering severe back problems - also thanked fans following a collection to raise funds for his medical treatment.

Leigh, who had Dean Hatton and Andy Hobson placed on report for dangerous tackles, extended their lead four minutes into the second half when Alstead was the first to react to a kick over the top.

Wolves responded when Briers took a pass from Mark Gleeson and stepped past two defenders to score but Alstead outpaced young winger John Walker - normally a centre or second rower - to score again for Leigh.

The former Wolves man then completed his hat-trick by streaking down the left touchline and flummoxing Bridge before Chris Riley, who saw two second-half tries disallowed, scored a consolation for the hosts following a Westwood offload.

Wolves: Chris Bridge; Matty Blythe, Andy Bracek (1t), Ben Westwood, Chris Riley (1t); Simon Grix, Lee Briers (1t, 3g); Paul Rauhihi, Mark Gleeson, Steve Pickersgill, Lee Mitchell, Rob Parker, Ben Harrison. Subs used: Mike Cooper, Adam Neal, John Walker, Steven Roper.

Leigh: Chris Giles; Steve Maden (1t), Mark Roberts, Adam Rudd, Dave Alstead (3t); Dennis Moran (1g), Ian Watson (4g); Andy Hobson, Aaron Smith (1t), Chris Hill, Mike Wainwright, Lee Doran (2t), James Taylor. Subs used: Martin Keavney, Dave McConnell, Dale Cunnliffe, Gareth Price, Ian Mort, Dean Hatton, Darryl Kay.

Referee: Phil Bentham.

Attendance: 4,022.