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It was England v. France, Sang et Or v. Primrose and Blue, Gallic Charm v. Northern Grit, Catalans Dragons v. Warrington Wolves. Wembley was the venue for only the second internationally flavoured Challenge Cup Final and the prospect was for a classic game between two open rugby playing sides.

 

The Wolves came into the game as strong favourites but a resurgent Catalans Dragons, under the stewardship of Steve McNamara, had saved everything in their locker for arguably the most important game in their eighteen year history.

 

If the Dragons repeated their semi-final form then the Wolves were in for a bumpy ride, but anything other than a top drawer Catalans performance meant it was likely to be Warrington’s afternoon.

 

There were under two minutes on the clock when Lewis Tierney made the most of Stefan Ratchford spilling the first high kick of the game when he took a short pass to dive over in the corner. Josh Drinkwater kicked the touchline conversion for the start that the Frenchmen could only have dreamt of.

 

A terrific Fouad Yaha break got great field position and three tackles later the Wolves were penalised in front of their own sticks for interference at the play-the-ball. Drinkwater kicked the penalty for an 8-0 lead, the Wolves didn’t know what had hit them.

 

Tom Lineham had a fifteenth minute sliding try ruled out for an obstruction in the build up. 

 

Confusion in the Dragons defence gifted Ben Murdoch-Masila possession from a high kick on twenty-eight to go three metres to cross the line and round behind the sticks. Tyrone Roberts kicked the gift of a conversion for 6-8 on the half hour.

 

Five minutes before the interval Ben Garcia backed himself as he went under the Wolves defenders from dummy half to ground on the line. Hicks gave the try on the field and video referee Ben Thaler agreed. Drinkwater kicked his third goal of the afternoon and the Dragons had a 14-6 lead at the interval.

 

A forty-fourth minute Tony Gigot 40-20 gave the Dragons great field position and on the third tackle Branden Wiliame stepped inside and went under the tacklers to dive over the line. Drinkwater added the conversion giving the Catalans a 20-6 lead.

 

On fifty-five George King took advantage of a terrible mistake by Drinkwater in the Dragons defence as he dived and knocked-on a Brown kick through which was then picked up by Roberts who passed into the hands of the prop forward to score. Roberts added the extras and the deficit was down to eight points.

 

An unforced error from Drinkwater gifted the Wolves possession on sixty-six, just twenty from the Dragons line. On the third tackle the bullet pass hit Ben Westwood and bounced dead in goal.

 

A late tackle by Mikael Simon on Kevin Brown gifted Roberts a penalty on sixty-eight to get the Wolves back within a converted try of the Dragons at 14-20.

 

The Wolves had the best of the closing minutes but the Dragons managed to defend their line until the final hooter to secure a famous victory, against the odds, and take the trophy back to France for the first time in its long and illustrious history.

 

Tony Gigot was the winner of the Lance Todd Trophy, a deserved man of the match.

 

It was an exciting final but one that lacked finesse and skill and which was littered with errors from both sides. There were plenty of nerves on show but also the odd moment of magic from the likes of Gigot, Brown, Murdoch-Masila and Drinkwater. 

 

All credit to the Catalans Dragons, they came full of the confidence that they could win the trophy and they stuck to their game plan to secure an incredible and famous victory.

 

Allez les Dragons!

 

Dragons: Gigot, Tierney (T), Mead, Wiliame (T), Yaha, Langi, Drinkwater (4G), Simon, McIlorum, Moa, Jullien, Garcia (T), Casty. Subs: Bousquet, Baitieri, Edwards, Goudemand.

 

Wolves: Ratchford, Lineham, Goodwin, King T, Charley, Brown, Roberts (3G), Hill, Clark, Cooper, Livett, Hughes, Westwood. Subs: Murdoch-Masila (T), King G (T), Patton, Philbin.

 

Half Time: 14-6.

 

Full Time: 20-14.

 

Referee: Robert Hicks.

 

Attendance: 50,672.

 



Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Sat 25th Aug 2018 5:14 PM | Views : 2816 | Replies : 0 | BACK TO STORIES
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