A stunning hat-trick from Bevan French helped Wigan Warriors ease to a 46-12 win at home to Catalans Dragons at the DW Stadium on Friday night. Victory for the Warriors secures their place in the end of season play-offs whilst ending the Dragons slim chances of a top-five finish. Here’s how the action unfolded.
A sloppy start to proceedings from Wigan culminated in Liam Farrell being sent to the sin-bin on 18 minutes for a dangerous tackle, with Catalans’ camped in the Warriors half in the opening 20 minutes.
After absorbing plenty of Catalans’ pressure however, French went over in the corner, with an eight-point try awarded by referee Robert Hicks due to an infringement on French after he had grounded the ball.
French doubled his try tally for the match five minutes before half-time, showing excellent pace to blitz past the Dragons defence as the Warriors went into the interval with a comfortable 14-point lead.
The Australian completed his hat-trick early in the second half when he bamboozled the Dragons defence with some brilliant footwork before dotting down to all but secure the two points and the Warriors place in the play-offs.
Former Wigan man Michael McIlorum responded with a try for the Dragons, catching out the Wigan defence, before quick-fire tries from Zak Hardaker and Thomas Leuluai ended any hopes of an unlikely Catalans’ fightback.
Debutant Harry Smith then scored his first Super League try on the hour mark, scoring with virtually his first touch in a Wigan shirt, before converting his own try in a dominant second half display from the Warriors.
Salford Red Devils-bound centre Dan Sarginson ran in Wigan’s seventh try of the match late on before a consolation score from Lewis Tierney added six points to Catalans’ total in another below par display from the French outfit.
Oliver Gildart went over in the dying seconds to complete the scoring on a comfortable night’s work for Wigan at the DW Stadium who continue to build momentum heading into the final game of the season.
The victory secures Wigan’s place in the end of season play-offs and strengthens their grip on second place in the Super League table with the Warriors requiring a point from their final league fixture against Castleford Tigers next Friday to guarantee second place.
Defeat for Catalans’ however, ends the French side’s season with one game left to play as they are confined to a seventh-place finish in Super League and will wonder what might have been after a string of disappointing results to close out the season.
Wigan were dealt a blow prior to kick-off with last week’s hat-trick scorer Liam Marshall ruled out with a hamstring strain, allowing French to start out on the wing, making just his fourth Warriors appearance since arriving at the club in late July.
The 23-year-old took his chance with both hands, scoring the opening try on 25 minutes, despite the home side having Farrell in the sin-bin, when he collected George Williams excellent cut-out pass before finishing tidily in the corner with referee Hicks awarding an eight-point try after a Catalans’ infringement after the try was scored.
French grabbed his second try of the match on 35 minutes when he showed electric speed to breeze past the Catalans’ defence, with the Cherry and Whites excellent defensive effort in the opening quarter of the game paying dividends, easing into a 14-point lead at half time.
The stand-in winger completed his treble five minutes into the second period with another superb try, as he once again left the Dragons defence flat-footed with some magical footwork following a blistering Warriors counter attack.
McIlorum caught out a napping Wigan defence with the French side’s only try of the match three minutes later, before a Warriors onslaught ended the game as a contest, as they ran in three tries in the space of 10 minutes.
The comeback was short lived however, when Hardaker received an offload from hat-trick scorer French, before beating his marker and going over for Wigan’s fourth try of the night just two minutes after the Dragons had reduced the deficit.
Leuluai ended the game as a contest on 54 minutes when he breezed through the Catalans’ defence before going over for a simple try with youngster Smith then scoring moments after coming off the interchange bench when he collected Joe Burgess’ kick through before converting his own score.
The remarkable French contributed to his fifth try of the night when his kick sent Sarginson away to score, in one of his final appearances for the club, before Tierney finished off a well-worked Catalans’ try, scoring a consolation effort with three minutes left to play. Gildart then went over in the final seconds to secure Wigan’s place in the play-offs and their 11th victory in their last 12 league matches.
Bevan French certainly made the most of Liam Marshall’s absence, scoring a quite remarkable hat-trick as well as providing two try assists as the Warriors marched past Catalans’. French opened the scoring with a well-taken try out in the corner before adding a second try with a blistering break that left the Dragons defence for dead. He completed his hat-trick in the second half with some sensational footwork before then teeing up Hardaker and Sarginson later on.
Lam Proving Doubters Wrong
The Shaun Wane era at Wigan was always going to be a tough act to follow, but with one game of the 2019 season left to play, Adrian Lam is finally proving his doubters wrong. After a difficult start to the season, lingering at the foot of the Super League table, Wigan are now in pole position to finish in second-place in the table and look like being the only side capable of stopping rivals St Helens from winning the competition this season.
Catalans’ Clear Out
After outspoken chairman Bernard Guasch criticised the attitude of some of the Dragons senior players, prior to their game against Wigan, the French side look set to re-shape their squad ahead of the 2020 Super League season. Star man Tony Gigot came in for particular criticism from Guasch, with seven first-team players set to depart at the end of the current campaign and will be resting their hopes on star off-season signing James Maloney next term.
Disappointing End for the Dragons
The 2019 Super League season promised so much for Catalans’, having won the Challenge Cup the season previously. They sat in third-place after the Magic Weekend back in May and were contenders for a top-five finish until a run of four consecutive defeats saw their season capitulate. Better consistency is needed by Steve McNamara’s side next season if they are to mount a genuine push for domestic honours next term.
Wigan Warriors 46
Tries: French 3, Hardaker, Leuluai, Smith, Sarginson, Gildart
Goals: Hardaker 6, Smith
Drop Goals: n/a
Catalans Dragons 12
Tries: McIlorum, Tierney
Goals: Tomkins 2
Drop Goals: n/a
Wigan Warriors: Hardaker, French, Sarginson, Gildart, Burgess, Williams, Leuluai, Clubb, Powell, Partington, Isa, Farrell, Smithies
Interchanges: Smith, Navarrete, Greenwood, Byrne
Catalans Dragons: Tomkins, Romano, Langi, Wiliame, Tierney, Bird, Albert, Maria, McIlorum, Bousquet, Jullien, Whitley, Casty
Interchanges: Simon, Da Costa, Goudemand, Baitieri