Joe Greenwood’s late try earned Wigan Warriors a hard-fought victory over 12-man Catalans Dragons.
Despite playing the second half at a disadvantage after the dismissal of Kenny Edwards, the French side managed to overturn a 14-point deficit before the Warriors made it over the line.
Catalans took the lead after seven minutes, when Tony Gigot’s grubber was missed by Liam Marshall and opposite winger Jodie Broughton was able to ground.
Wigan levelled the scores after 15 minutes after Sam Tomkins’ high kick was claimed by Chris Hankinson to touch down and score his first try for the club in just his second appearance.
Wigan were building pressure but struggling to convert any further chances, and they only edged in front thanks to a Tomkins penalty.
They went into the break with a man advantage though, after Edwards was dismissed just before half-time for a late, high challenge on John Bateman, and they made the numbers count in the first six minutes after the restart with two tries.
The first came within a minute as Dan Sarginson and Marshall combined to play in Morgan Escare for a try against his former side, and that was followed by good hands from Bateman and Thomas Leuluai to send Tomkins over, with the full-back converting both for a 14-point lead.
It looked like Catalans would be dead and buried there but they showed plenty of resolves to get back into the game.
They scored two tries in six minutes, first from Alrix Da Costa and then a gift for Fouad Yaha after a mix-up, with Lucas Albert converting both tries and adding a penalty to level the scores.
But Wigan worked hard to regain what they had let slip, and after Tomkins had slotted over a drop goal to edge the home side in front, Greenwood got his first try for the club to seal a tough win.
WHAT WE’VE LEARNED
Quality and fight in reserve
Catalans may not have left the DW Stadium with any competition points but they can take plenty of credit from a superb display to push second-placed Wigan all the way.
To recover from a big deficit when the contest looked over was some achievement, with the side down to 12 after Edwards lived up to his bad-boy reputation in the NRL with a red card in his first start for the club.
It should be remembered as well that the Dragons rested many of their top players ahead of next week’s Challenge Cup semi-final, including the superb Josh Drinkwater, which only makes their performance more remarkable.
Wigan still struggle to create
Wigan are having serious problems in the creativity department at the moment, and in this game they had some really good spells in threatening territory yet struggled to find a way over the line.
It increasingly looks like only George Williams’ return will solve those issues, and in the meantime the Warriors remain reliant on Tomkins to produce the quality.
Man of the Match – Sam Tomkins (Wigan)
The full-back is the one player in Wigan’s ranks who can step up and really be counted when his side need a hero, and it is ironic that he did it again here against the side that he will be moving to at the end of the season.
He was faultless at the back when perhaps his team-mates were not, and he scored a try and assisted another while also landing the drop goal that crucially nudged them in front late on.
Wigan Warriors 25
Tries: Hankinson, Escare, Tomkins, Greenwood
Goals: Tomkins (4)
Drop Goals: Tomkins
Catalans Dragons 20
Tries: Broughton, Da Costa, Yaha
Goals: Albert (4)
Drop Goals: n/a
Wigan: Tomkins; Davies, Hankinson, Sarginson, Marshall; Woods, Powell; Navarrete, Leulaui, Flower; Bateman, Isa, Clubb.
Interchanges: Escare, Greenwood, Hamlin, Tautai.
Catalans: Gigot; Broughton, Thornley, Wiliame, Yaha; Langi, Albert; Anderson, McIlorum, Moa; Bird, Edwards, Baitieri.
Interchanges: Bousquet, Maria, Da Costa, Goudemand.
Referee: Scott Mikalauskas