History was made as Catalans Dragons become the first non-English team to win the Challenge Cup with victory over a tough Warrington Wolves side. Here’s our verdict…
The Dragons got the game underway and were ahead inside two minutes, as Warrington’s Stefan Ratchford spilled a high ball and the Dragons got it out quickly to Lewis Tierney to score in the corner. Drinkwater added the conversion and then extended their lead with a penalty kick after Ben Westwood’s interference.
Minutes later, Warrington looked to have scored in the corner as Tom Lineham slid over. Referee Robert Hicks sent the decision to video referee Ben Thaler, who confirmed the verdict of no try after seeing an obstruction in the build-up.
The Wire managed to hit back at the half-hour mark as Fouad Yaha fumbled a high kick which fell into the arms of Ben Murdoch-Masila to run in and score.
Dragons extended their lead before the half-time whistle, weathering some pressure from Warrington before applying some of their own, which was rewarded with a try from Benjamin Garcia out of dummy half, with the video referee required to confirm the ball had been grounded on the line.
The Wire got the second half underway and the Dragons gained their third try off the back of a brilliant 40/20 from Tony Gigot. Then piled on the pressure and Brayden Wiliame went over the line after being slipped in by Gigot.
Ten minutes later Warrington responded as Brown sent the ball back infield to Drinkwater, who made a hash of picking it up but Roberts managed to recover and pass to George King for the try.
With just over ten minutes to go, Catalans were penalised for a late tackle on Kevin Brown, and they opted for the two points with Roberts narrowing the deficit to a single score.
Catalans managed to hold onto their lead for the final minutes though, and the win Cup safe when Warrington kicked on the last and Charnley was penalised for his attempts to drag Yaha into the in goal. The Dragons played a slow set-of-six to see out the final minute and complete a historic victory.
WHAT WE’VE LEARNED
Historic and deserved win
After their semi-final win against St Helens the Dragons suffered in poor form throughout their Super League fixtures, but it was clear that all the focus was on winning their first ever Challenge Cup.
And they did just that with a performance at Wembley to match the win at Bolton, and while there was no blistering run of tries to blow their opponents away the Dragons ground it out for each minute of the 80 with another brilliant display.
They were efficient on the ball, completing their sets and allowing their forwards to make big metres and get them on the front foot, and backed that up with a big showing in defence to keep out everything that Warrington tried to throw at them in the final stages.
Warrington’s errors costed them
In the early stages of the game the Wolves struggled to complete their sets, as errors both with the ball and in decision-making saw them bomb a number of potential tries.
The forwards struggled to overcome the French force in front of them, and half-backs Kevin Brown and Tyrone Roberts failed to bring the creativity required to break down the Dragons.
Warrington are still in the driving seat for a place in the Super League semi-finals, but this result will hurt and Steve Price will be very concerned that his side simply came up short in quality on the big stage.
Man Of The Match – Tony Gigot (Catalan Dragons)
His side became the first French team to win the famous trophy and Tony Gigot becomes the first French player to win the Lance Todd trophy as well.
While the opposition struggled for quality the Catalans full-back led by example, displaying sheer class on the big stage both with the ball in hand and in defence, while being flawless under heavy pressure from Warrington’s kicking.
Catalan Dragons 20
Tries: Tierney 2′, Garcia 35′, Williame 45′
Goals: Drinkwater 4/4
Warrington Wolves 14
Tries: Murdoch-Masila 29′, G. King 56′
Goals: Roberts 3/3
Catalans: Gigot; Tierney, Mead, Wiliame, Yaha; Langi, Drinkwater; Simon, McIlorum, Moa; Jullien, Garcia, Casty.
Interchanges: Bousquet, Baitieri, Goudemand, Edwards.
Warrington: Ratchford; Lineham, Goodwin, T King, Charnley; K Brown, Roberts; Hill, Clark, Cooper; Livett, Hughes, Westwood.
Interchanges: Murdoch-Masila, Patton, Philbin, G King.
Referee: Robert Hicks