The Catalans Dragons emerged from a three week coronavirus enforced hibernation to take on the Wigan Warriors in front of 5,000 spectators, the first time that fans have been allowed back into a rugby league ground since lockdown.
Under the new table structure the Catalans Dragons are currently third with the Warriors in fourth. A win for Wigan would lift them above their hosts, while a loss would see them drop out of the four and slip behind the Rhinos. A win for the home side would lift them back into top spot, passing Warrington and Saints.
Wigan were the slight pre-match bookies favourites, but the Dragons only received a two point start on the handicap coupon. Would a hostile crowd and sweltering condition prove too much for Adrian Lam’s side.
Wigan took full advantage of referee Kendall missing a blatant forward pass to get the opener when the ball was moved wide left with Oliver Gildart managing to get the ball down despite a couple of high tackles. Zak Hardaker was unable to add the touchline conversion but the home support were unhappy that their side were 4-0 behind.
Joe Burgess dropped a high kick ten out from his own line on twenty-one but Wigan managed to knock the ball dead as the Dragons pressed on the next set. The home side were having the majority of the possession but couldn’t find their way through the Wigan defence.
Wigan got their second on twenty-five minutes with Bevan French completing the move after supporting a terrific Joe Burgess break down the wing. This time Hardaker added the goal, Wigan 10-0 ahead, somewhat against the run of play.
As the Dragons stood and watched after Joe Greenwood dislodged the ball from Kasiano’s grip and Joe Burgess was on hand to take the pass after the loose ball was picked up and went fifty metres to score unopposed. Hardaker again added the extras, the Warriors 16-0 ahead. IN the dying seconds of the half Hardaker kicked a penalty goal for an eighteen point margin at the interval.
The Dragons went into the interval wondering how they were pointless and trailing by eighteen points after dominating long periods of the game. The Warriors, on the other hand, went into the sheds rightfully delighted with their defensive performance.
The Dragons came out of the sheds at full speed and laid seige to the Warriors line. Three quick penalties saw Joe Greenwood sin-binned on forty-three but the Dragons spurned the opportunity, coughing up possession.
On fifty-two the Warriors scored their fourth try of the game with Joe Burgess taking the final pass and going over wide left. Hardaker couldn’t kick the conversion, Wigan with a twenty-two point lead. The points were in the bag, Wigan moving up to third, the Dragons dropping out of the four.
On seventy one Sam Powell twisted out of a tackle and scampered over from five metres for the fifth unanswered Wigan try of the evening. Hardaker added the conversion for 28-0 to extend the Dragons misery.
Julian Bousquet got some late consolation on seventy-two when he took Partington and Powell over the line with him, grounding underneath the stricks. James Maloney added the conversion for 6-28, still humiliating for the Dragons in front of their own crowd.
Fouad Yaha grabbed a last minute consolation, on hand to take a long pass and dive over in the corner. Maloney added the extras from the touchline for a final score of 12-28.
The Warriors will be delighted with their early evenings work after jetting in to Perpignan during the day and demolishing a hopeful Catalans Dragons outfit. Wigan didn’t have it as easy as the scoreline might suggest as they defended their line for long periods but they hit the Dragons on the counter and had the skills and confidence to score five tries to easily take the points.
Dragons: Tomkins S, Yaha (T), Folau, Langi, Tierney, Albert, Maloney (2G), Bousquet (T), Da Costa, Casty, Tomkins J, Whitley, Garcia. Subs: Jullien, Goudemand, Baitieri, Kasiano.
Warriors: French (T), Burgess J (2T), Gildart (T), Hardaker (4G), Manfredi, Leuluai, Hastings, Bullock, Powell (T), Havard, Isa, Farrell, Partington. Subs: Burgess G, Greenwood (SB on 43), Shorrocks, Smith.
Referee: Chris Kendall.
Ground: Stade Gilbert Brutus, Perpignan.