Posted by tb on Sat 8th Jul 2017 9:55 PM
Catalan Dragons 10 Wigan Warriors 32
The defending champions took a major step towards securing their place in this year's Super 8s when Wigan notched up a 32-10 victory in Perpignan – and at the same time all but guaranteeing that the Dragons will be playing for their 2018 Super League place in the qualifying comp.
The win will have cheered up hospitalised coach Shaun Wane – recovering from a hip operation – neither side convinced for much of the game as the heat in the south of France seemed to take its toll.
The Dragons were without a number of name players through injury or suspension following last week's ill-tempered encounter with Wigan's near neighbours Leigh. But they showed more structure and discipline under new boss Steve McNamara than they had so far this season.
The Warriors were refreshed by the return of a number of long-term injuries – including Sam Tomkins playing just his third game after a 20-week injury lay-off – but they seemed to tire most easily.
Nevertheless, as the final scoreline showed, the visitors were the team with the greater hunger when it mattered.
Not that the scoreboard operator was troubled at all in the game’ first 20 minutes.
And then it was the video ref who was called into action first –though more to decide who last touched the ball before it went dead, and how to restart, as Brayden Williame chased a Catalans kick in the 19th minute.
In less than a minute, though, Wigan got the scoreboard ticking over for real. Joe Burgess juggled a loose ball on the left before crossing the Catalans’ line on his hands and knees. England stand-off George Williams converted to give the visitors a 6-0 lead.
Vincent Duport pegged some back for hosts less than five minutes later, beating Tom Davies to a Luke Walsh grubbers.
But Walsh failed to convert from the touchline and a Williams penalty for a shoulder charge on John Bateman meant that the Dragon trailed for the whole of the first 40 and went in 8-4 down at half time.
It was Duport who opened the second-half scoring, collecting a high kick and touching down in the corner to level the scores. But then he, and the crowd, had to wait before Luke Walsh had a chance to convert and give Catalans the lead.
The ball had come loose: Anthony Gelling picked it up and set off up the other end of the field before putting his winger Tom Davies over to touch down – and that was when referee Robert Hicks asked video ref Chris Kendell to decide if Duport had scored first; or if he’d not, had Davies?
In the end, the ruling went with Duport and Walsh's kick meant the Dragons were in front at 10-8.
After that though, the scoring was all Wigan’s.
First Williams levelled the scores again with a penalty, then Burgess got his second – and cleanest – try of the night to give the Cherry and Whites a lead they never reliquished.
In the last 15 minutes Williams scored a well-crafted try after the ball moved through numerous hands across the width of the field, and converted it; then Tomkins got over the line for a scrappy converted try – and nearly repeated it minutes later only to put a foot in touch.
And finally Burgess crossed the line again to seal with win and deliver a scoreline – with Williams’s conversion of 32-10.