Wigan Warriors scored eight tries to beat Catalan Dragons 42-22 on a sunny afternoon down at the DW Stadium. The Dragons fought back from 16-0 down to lead 22-20 at one stage, but the Warriors ran away with it in the final stages of the match.
FLYING DAVIES AT THE DOUBLE
As always, Wigan had the early chances in this one, yet again, they couldn’t make the pressure count. If previous games were anything to go by, Wigan would now go on to concede. It was the Dragons who started to press, then in the 14th minute following a superb tackle, the ball was knocked loose, and Tom Davies was to go the full-length of the field, and over for the first try of the game. Wigan led 6-0.
It was carbon copy only minutes later, as Wigan knocked the ball free following another huge hit, and it was Liam Forsyth who sent Tom Davies down the wing for his second of the game. Out of nothing, Wigan were 10-0 up. It got better a few minutes later as Joe Burgess took a great drop-off pass from George Williams to force his way over for another Wigan try. Wigan were 16-0 up.
So, 20-minutes had gone, and Wigan led 16-0. It was strange as it didn’t feel like a deserved lead. They’d played well, but weren’t 16-points better than the Dragons, and it was only a couple of handling errors that gave them the first two-tries. Other than that, Wigan didn’t threaten enough in attack within that first half. You sensed that the Dragons had a few tries in them, so Wigan needed to put the game to bed, and soon.
ERROR-STRICKEN FIRST HALF
Following the first two-tries which came from Catalan errors, it was now Wigan’s turn to return the favour, as Catalan would go on to score three tries, on the back of some real sloppy mistakes from the Warriors. The first came from nothing really, and it didn’t look as if Fouad Yaha had got the ball down. If it had been on TV, it would have been one for the video referee for sure. Dragons still trailed 16-4.
The next two tries were criminal to concede from a Wigan perspective, and I’m sure Shaun Wane was absolutely fuming with them at halftime. Both tries came in the final five-minutes of the half, which was even more painful for the Wigan fans. It was Morgan Escaré who spilled a high Luke Walsh kick, and Tony Gigot was there for the easy finish near the posts. An unlikely error from the usually safe Frenchman.
Minutes later, it was another great kick, this time from Richie Myler, that the Wigan defence got nowhere near, as Louis Anderson beat them all and barged his way over for a simple Dragons try. It was a real soft one to concede, and the Wigan fans let the players know that. It was a real poor finish to the half from the Warriors, as they threw a 16-0 lead away, and went into halftime all level, at 16-16.
WARRIORS FINISH STRONG
Wigan needed a good start to the second half, and they got just that. After a minute, a Wigan high bomb caused the Dragons defence all sorts of problems, and Liam Forsyth was on hand to score the half’s first try. Wigan led 20-16. Then, minutes later, Dragons took the lead for the first and only time of the game following Louis Andersons second of the game. Again, it was poor from Wigan, and it was another soft try.
The final 20-minutes was superb from Wigan, as they would go over for four tries. The first was the second of the game from Liam Forsyth, as the young centre created his own gap, and forced his way over for a great try. Only a minute later, Liam Farrell played a sublime pass out wide to George Williams, who found Joe Burgess, and the England international went over for his second of the game. Wigan led 30-22.
The only thing missing from this game was a Liam Marshall try, which finally came in the 68th minute as the winger waltzed over for his 10th of the season. The game was wrapped up right on the full-time hooter, as George Williams found a gap in the Dragons defence and fed Liam Farrell for a simple finish under the posts. Wigan made it three wins in a row, with a 42-22 win, and now sit just one-point off league leaders, Castleford Tigers.
GOOD AND BAD FOR WIGAN
It was good and bad sort of day for the Wigan Warriors. They good came with another win, and that win made it six-points from six over the busy Easter period. It’s been a testing week or so for the Warriors as they’d gone into this period of games without a win in four. However, wins against St Helens, Wakefield and Catalan, shot them up the table, into third, just one-point of first place, which puts them right back in the mix.
However, as always with Wigan, they can’t just have a good news day. A real negative to come out of this game with the Dragons was that Thomas Leuluai could be set for a long spell on the sidelines with a suspected broken jaw. He left the field around the 48th minute, holding his jaw and looking is some pain. It’s yet to be confirmed as such, but Wigan did say it was a jaw injury, and they’d asses it over the next few days.
But let’s finish on a positive note, and that being, that yet again, the Wigan youngsters stood up and ultimately won the game for Wigan. With five of the eight Wigan tries coming through Liam Marshall, Tom Davies and Liam Forsyth. I can’t praise these youngsters enough and with Lewis Tierney and Anthony Gelling set to return next week, it’ll be interesting to see how Shaun Wane sets the team up.
Wigan Warriors assistant coach John Winder:
“In the first half, we were just a bit slack with the ball. Our completion rate was around 50% at half-time, so we just turned over too much cheap ball.
“They are too good a side to do that to and they took some chances on last play and came up with some points.
“Going in at 16-16 we were really disappointed, but in the second half we controlled the ball a lot better, probably simplified it a bit and played more direct and got the result.”
Catalan Dragons head coach Laurent Frayssinous:
“In effect, it was the start that did us.
“The errors we made with the ball cost us because we had to defend a lot.
“Our errors with the ball in the first half cost us and so did our defence in the second. We know what we need to work on.”
IN THE SHEDS
Wigan lost Thomas Leuluai in the second half with a jaw injury. He broke his jaw playing for New Zealand in last year’s Four Nations, I’m sure Wigan’s hoping it’s not as serious.
There were no incidents during the game that would call for the RFL to act upon.
Wigan Warriors: (16) 42
Tries: Davies 2, Burgess 2, Forsyth 2, Marshall, Farrell
Conversions: Escaré 2/5, Powell 3/3
Catalans Dragons: (16) 22
Tries: Yaha, Gigot, Anderson 2
Conversions: Walsh 3/4
Wigan Warriors: Escaré; Davies, Forsyth, Burgess, Marshall; Williams, Leuluai; Nuuausala, Powell, Flower, Isa, Farrell, O’Loughlin.
Replacements: McIlorum, Tautai, Sutton, Navarrete.
Catalans Dragons: Gigot; Bosc, Duport, Thornley, Yaha; Walsh, Myler; Casty, Anderson, Garcia, Moa, Belmas, Aiton.
Replacements: Bousquet, Margalet, Simon, Da Costa.
Referee: Gareth Hewer
Venue: DW Stadium, Wigan
Date/Time: Sunday 23rd April 2017 – 15:00pm GMT