Catalan Dragons 24 (6)
Tries: Oldfield (3), Mounis
Goals: Bosc 4/4
Warrington Wolves 26 (12)
Tries: M. Monaghan, Ormsby, Evans, J.Monaghan
Goals: Bridge 5/5
Warrington Wolves narrowly defeated the Catalan Dragons 26-24 in a close encounter at the Stade Gilbert Brutus.
Tries from Michael Monaghan, Gene Ormsby, Rhys Evans and Michael Monaghan, as well as a crucial penalty from Chris Bridge ensured Warrington narrowly came out on top, and picked up an important win ahead of next weekend’s Challenge Cup semi-final against Leeds. Michael Oldfield scored a hat-trick to take Catalan to the brink of victory, but the Australian’s efforts were in vain as the French side suffered their 2nd consecutive defeat.
In a hard fought contest there was little to separate the sides throughout. Michael Monaghan, returning from injury after 8 weeks out, darted over from dummy half 3 yards out on 11 minutes. Morgan Escare, Ian Henderson and Leon Pryce appeared to have held Monaghan up, but the Warrington Captain shrugged off the three defenders to go over for the Wolves’ first try.
Rain had fallen heavily before the match in the south of France, and there were plenty of handling errors throughout from both sides as a result. Richie Myler knocked on 20 metres out from his own line to give Catalan advantage on 14 minutes. Quick passing play out wide by the Dragons saw Elliot Whitehead find Michael Oldfield on the wing, who collected the ball to run in his first of the night.
Both sides had their opportunities during the remainder of the first half, but it was Warrington who scored next on the stroke of half time. Michael Monaghan had the vision on the Catalan line to pick out Gene Ormsby unmanned on the wing to walk over for his 12th try of the campaign. Chris Bridge kicked the conversion to ensure Warrington ended the half 12-6 ahead.
Bridge and the Dragon’s Thomas Bosc didn’t miss a single kick at goal all night, and was one of the reasons the match went right down to the wire. A penalty for a high tackle from Greg Mounis on Joel Monaghan just after half time gave Bridge the opportunity to secure another 2 points for the Wolves. In front of the sticks, Bridge, who had moved back into the centre for this game, kicked over what would turn out to be the decisive 2 points.
The home side then began to look more dangerous. Bosc chased his own kick and was narrowly beaten to the try line by Richie Myler. The following play saw Elliot Whitehead disallowed a try by the video referee, as he was beaten to the ball from the kick by Gareth O’Brien just over the whitewash.
However, a minute later the Dragons were rewarded for their efforts. Eloi Pelissier came close to forcing his way over and from the play the ball Greg Mounis gathered and went over under the sticks.
Warrington extended their lead 5 minutes later when Chris Bridge’s grubber kick into the corner was pounced on by winger Rhys Evans. The video referee awarded the try to take the Wolves’ advantage to 20-12.
On the hour mark, Oldfield scored his 2nd of the night to bring the Dragons back into the game. Quick passes out wide on the right meant Catalan had men in numbers, as the ball found its way to Oldfield to go over.
However, no sooner where they back in it, Warrington struck again. A kick from Gareth O’Brien 20 metres out deflected off Ian Henderson in the direction of the Warrington chasers. Stefan Ratchford took advantage and collected the loose ball before offloading to Joel Monaghan 10 metres out who went over for his 20th try of the season.
Oldfield then completed his hat trick on 72 minutes to reduce Warrington’s lead to just 2 points. Warrington’s defence had been sucked in from the wing, leaving Oldfield plenty of room out wide to latch on to the end of Thomas Bosc’s brilliantly weighted kick.
That left a nervous final few minutes for the Wolves, but Warrington held on to secure the 2 points. The Wolves stay in 5th, but move level on points with Castleford who have a game in hand. Catalan remain in 7th place, and will need to bounce back to winning ways quickly in order to tie down their play-off spot.