Wigan Warriors host the Catalan Dragons in what is the final weekend of the Super 8s, on Friday night at the DW Stadium. Wigan go into this game knowing that a win would guarantee them 2nd place and a hone game in next weeks play-off semi-final’s. It would be a remarkable finish following the season they’ve had. On the other side, Catalans have nothing to play for in this game, it’s away from home, so as usual, they wont have many, if any fans there to rally them on. It’s a great chance for Wigan to score a few points and finish their Super 8s in great form.
LAST TIME OUT
Wigan go into this game on the back of a quite remarkable 35-28 comeback victory, against all odds away at Warrington. The Warriors trailed 28-14 with just 19 minutes to go, to make matters worse they were down to 12-men when Ben Flower (who has since been banned for 2 games) was sent off following a late hit on Patton. Wigan got off to a great start when Tierney went over in the corner. Wigan stayed on top early on and Smith kicked back-to-back penalties to take an 8-0 lead. Warrington managed to get back in the game when Russell went over from a nothing play. This seemed to kick some life into Warrington as they finally started to make a game of it. However, they hit a snag in the 31st minute when Ratchford was sent to the sin-bin for a professional foul. Wigan looked to capitalise, but failed miserably. Instead, Warrington would score back-to-back tries through Gidley and Hill to turn the game on its head and lead 16-8. Wigan looked down at this stage, but right on halftime, Sam Tomkins would barge his way over for dummy half to give Wigan a boost going into the second half, were they still trailed 16-14. Warrington started the second half on fire, as they would go on to score two un-answered tries through Westerman and Currie. The latter having to leave the field with a season ending ACL injury. Wigan were 28-14 down with 20 minutes to go. Things went from bad to worse as in the 61st minute Ben Flower would be sent off following a clumsy, yet poor late hit on Patton. At this stage Wigan seemed dead and buried and Warrington looked to seal victory and lift the League Leaders Shield. However, Wigan had other ideas. Wigan would go on and score 4 tries (Charnley(2), Tierney and Gelling) and kick a drop-goal (Smith) in the final 19 minutes to record a quite remarkable and simply stunning 35-28 comeback victory. This result can only further the confidence and belief within he Wigan camp going into the play-offs.
Catalan Dragons go into their final Super 8s game on the back of a frustrating 34-28 loss at the hands of Castleford Tigers. Catalans, who’s season has been over for a couple of weeks now, had a poor outing on their final home game of the season. With players leaving the club and some retiring, it was a really poor send off. Tigers got off to a great start when Luke Dorn went over for the games first try. Catalans did hit back through former Tigers player, Elima. Tigers started to gain control of the game and start to play some fantastic rugby league, something they have offered all season. Solomona would make history as he scored back-to-back tries to firstly equal then beat Vainikolo’s record of 36 tries in a single season, a record that that stretched back to 2004. It’s simply a superb effort from Solomona, who has broken this record for a club who hasn’t even made the play-offs. Crooks would come on as a substitute to further the Tigers lead, and give them a significant advantage over the French outfit. Catalans struck right before halftime following a great solo effort from Stewart to send the Dragons 24-10 behind at halftime. Tigers came out strong and looked in full control of the game, they would score two tries through Crooks and Flynn to even further their comfortable lead, to 34-10. Things got a little worse for the Dragons, as in the 61st minute, Ben Garcia would be sent to the sin-bin following a punch to Jake Webster on the floor. With 15 minutes to go, Castleford lead by 24 points and looked in no danger of letting it slip. However, Catalan would score three tries (Pelissier, Anderson and Myler) in just under 10 minutes to reduce the Tigers lead to 34-28 with just 5 minutes to go. It was an incredible effort from the Catalan players, one which must have frustrated their fans and coach as to why they couldn’t have done this in the previous 60 minutes or so. In the end, Tigers held on to record a 34-28 away victory at Catalans, something they haven’t done for six years.
As always with Catalan games, theres a real battle between the forwards. With Dave Taylor the main antagonist to their forward line, it’ll be great to see some of the potential big hits that will come about on Friday night.
In the last couple of weeks, Wigan have come from behind to win in the final moments of the game, and this has been helped not only by a great team effort, but also an unbelievable effort from the forwards. As mentioned previous, the battle between the forwards will be fantastic. I think Wigan will win that battle early on and set the pace of the game to take advantage. Players like Sutton, Tautai and Frank-Paul will be looking to continue were they left off last week at Warrington.
I would love to see Broughton have a good game for Catalan. He’s a player, who earlier in the season would’ve been a dark horse to potentially make the England side for the upcoming Four Nations. However, a slow and rather poor end the season which wasn’t helped by injury as simply ended those hopes. For Wigan, it could potentially be Josh Charnley’s final game at the DW, depending on the result, so I’m sure he’ll be on top form for the cherry and whites.
Now, even with their season over, I’m sure the Catalan players wont just lie down for the Warriors, they’ll still have some fight in them. They been without a lot of their key players for a good few months now, and I’m sure the current team will be used to playing without them. For a few players in this team there’ll be some final games being played in Dragon colours and some are retiring all together, so I’m sure for those they’ll want to go out with a bang.
I just can’t see anything other than a huge Wigan win here. Catalans have absolutely nothing to play for, it’s their final game and their away from home. If Wigan win, they are guaranteed 2nd place with a home game in next weeks semi-final’s.
Wigan Warriors by 30
Wigan’s coach Shaun Wane: “I thought it was a good performance at Warrington, the best one of the year. Losing Sam (Powell) so early and then Ben, with players out of position too. They threw a lot at us and we showed great desire to win. To score four tries in the last 20 minutes like we did was a great achievement.”
“Catalans finished strongly at the weekend, we won’t underestimate them. We need to have the same attitude.”
“We need a good atmosphere, it’s our last home game of the Super 8s and we just need to make sure we perform.”
Wigan make just one change with Sean O’Loughlin returning from a hamstring injury to replace Sam Tomkins who picked up a lower limb injury in the win at Warrington. Tomkins will miss this week’s game and will be assessed by the Club’s medical department ahead of next week.
Catalans make two changes for the last game of the season with the return of Roman Navarrete and Morgan Escarp. Dragons are still without Todd Carney, Krisnan Inu, Pat Richards, Fouad Yaha, Antoni Maria, Thomas Bosc and Jason Baiter, Olivier Elima and Eloi Pelissier.
Wigan Warriors: John Bateman, Joe Bretherton, Josh Charnley, Dom Crosby, Liam Farrell, Ben Flower, Anthony Gelling, Oliver Gildart, Willie Isa, Frank-Paul Nuuausala, Sean O’Loughlin, Sam Powell, Dan Sarginson, Jake Shorrocks, Matty Smith, Ryan Sutton, Taulima Tautai, Lewis Tierney, George Williams
Catalan Dragons: Tony Gigot, Jodie Broughton, Vincent Duport, Richie Myler, Louis Anderson, Paul Aiton, Rémi Casty, Glenn Stewart, Justin Horo, Dave Taylor, Julian Bousquet, Greg Mounis, Morgan Escaré, Jordan Sigismeau, Lucas Albert, Alrix Da Costa, Romain Navarrete, Ben Garcia, Paul Seguir.
Referee: Phil Bentham
Venue: DW Stadium, Wigan
Date/Time: Friday 23rd September 2016 – 20:00pm GMT