Wigan Warriors host the Catalan Dragons this Sunday at the DW Stadium. Both sides had a superb Easter period, winning both of their games. Both are in fine form, and will be looking to continue that form on Sunday.
LAST TIME OUT
Wigan come into this game on the back of a struggling 16-10 win, away at Wakefield. It was a fast start to this game, as Wigan captain Sean O’Loughlin got the scoreboard going after just four minutes with a strong effort. Wakefield replied almost immediately, as a great kick through was missed by Morgan Escaré, and Scott Grix was on hand for the easiest try of his career. Liam Finn would make up for his missed conversion later in the half with a penalty-goal that levelled the match at 6-6. Wigan would play the remaining 10-minutes of the half with just 12-men as Anthony Gelling was sent to the sin-bin following a dangerous tackle on Wakefield’s Mason Caton-Brown. Wigan would hold-out well at first, and re-took the lead in the 34th minute through a superb Escaré try. However, a poor Ryan Sutton pass was pounced on by Trinity, and Wigan were under pressure right before halftime. It was ben Jones-Bishop who made that pressure count with a great flying finish in the corner. Finn once again missed the conversion and Wigan took a narrow 12-10 lead into halftime. The second half wasn’t easy to watch, at times, it was downright dull. Both sides were struggling and seemed rather tired, but did have chances throughout the half. However, neither side could make their attacks count. The game was finally won in the 76th minute through Liam Marshall, who would get on the end of a looping George Williams pass, to touch down in the corner. It was Marshall’s ninth of the season, and a real important one, as it helped Wigan to a 16-10 win, and took them just three-points off league leaders, Castleford Tigers.
Catalan come into this game on the back of a superb 38-6 hammering against the in-form Salford Red Devils. It was a great first half for the French outfit, as they won it 14-0, with two tries from Vincent Duport, and a penalty-goal from Luke Walsh. Salford seemed off their game a little on Easter Monday, far from their previous form. Although, it must have been tough to play on the Friday, the travel down to France and face the Dragons on the Monday. It’s tough in normal circumstances. Catalan continued their dominance earlier in the second half when Krisnan Inu went over to further their lead to 20-0. Then came the only bright moment for Salford, as Justin Carney collected a high kick, and raced 100-metres to get one back for the Red Devils, and give them some sort of hope. However, that wasn’t to last as Salford would not score another point in the game, and Catalan would go on to score another three tries. Richie Myler would go over for the first following a freak bounce off a high kick, and the Englishmen was gifted a simple finish under the posts. Next was another gift for the Dragons, as Salford broke away, and looked destined to score, Tony Gigot intercepted the final ball to go the full-length and put Catalan 30-6 up with just over 10-minutes to go. Luke Walsh would kick back-to-back drop-goals to add more pain to Salford. The game was then wrapped up, with a Duport hat-trick try, which was fully deserved as the Frenchman had a great game. That try finished off a great evening for the Dragons, as they made it three wins on the spin, and climbed back up the table, to sixth.
It’s always a real battle when these two sides meet, and this will be no exception. Both have a few players missing, but still go into the game with strong squads, and in good form.
Wigan bring Michael McIlorum back into the team, and I suspect he’ll play more than his 25 minutes against St Helens. His return to the team is huge, as him and Sam Powell can work together in that hooker role and create some real problems for teams. Catalan are currently playing Paul Anderson in the hooker role, as the usual hooker, Paul Aiton has been playing in second-row and loose-forward.
The ever-impressive form of Liam Marshall and Tom Davies seems to be keeping Joe Burgess out of a start on the wing, with the England international set to continue at centre this week. Wigan have great strength and class out wide, and Catalan will struggle to cope. As for the Dragons, they have the in-form Vincent Duport who last week scored a hat-trick in their win over Salford, and looks a player on fire.
The partnership of George Williams and Tommy Leuluai started to improve over the Easter period, and with the former signing a new deal, the focus is now fully on the game. As for the Dragons, Luke Walsh and Richie Myler have combined well this season, with both being directly involved in 27 tries this season. Walsh’s’ kicking game is also key, and could cause Wigan some problems this Sunday.
This will be a tough game. Both sides are in form, having won their respective games over the Easter period. Wigan look to welcome back more players this week, and are getting stronger by the game. While they didn’t play their best in their wins against Saints and Wakefield, they got the job done, and I think they’ll do the same here.
Wigan Warriors by 10
Wigan Warriors head coach Shaun Wane:
“They’re a good team, they can play and we’ve had some good battles with them over the years. They’ve got some talent so we need to match them.”
“I don’t know where we are in the league to be honest, we just take it week to week, make sure training is good and keep improving.”
Catalan Dragons head coach Laurent Frayssinous:
“We have had two very good performances away from home and I’m pretty proud of the boys.”
“It was very important that we bounced back from losing by 40 at home to Wakefield and hopefully we can maintain that. It’s about consistency.”
Joel Tomkins is withdrawn whilst Anthony Gelling is banned having picked up a one-match ban following the game at Wakefield. Michael Mcilorum and Joe Burgess return.
Catalan make two changes following injuries to Krisnan Inu and Justin Horo. Alrix Da Costa returns to the group while Ugo Perez is called for the first time of the season.
Wigan Warriors: Joe Bretherton, Joe Burgess, Tom Davies, Morgan Escaré, Liam Farrell, Ben Flower, Liam Forsyth, Nick Gregson, Willie Isa, Tommy Leuluai, Liam Marshall, Michael McIlorum, Romain Navarrete, Frank-Paul Nuuausala, Sean O’Loughlin, Sam Powell, Ryan Sutton, Taulima Tautai and George Williams.
Catalan Dragons: Tony Gigot, Fouad Yaha, Luke Walsh, Richie Myler, Sam Moa, Paul Aiton, Rémi Casty, Louis Anderson, Julian Bousquet, Ben Garcia, Thomas Bosc, Vincent Duport, Mickael Simon, Iain Thornley Lucas Albert, Alrix Da Costs, Thibaud Margalet, Lambert Belmas and Ugo Perez.
Referee: Gareth Hewer
Venue: DW Stadium, Wigan
Date/Time: Sunday 23rd April 2017 – 15:00pm GMT