Catalans Dragons 46 Warrington 8: Warrington fall foul of Murphy's four

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The Independent Online

Justin Murphy equalled the best try-scoring performance in a Super League play-off with four as the Dragons destroyed Warrington. The Australian-born but French-qualified winger, who was the competition's leading scorer when the Catalans finished last in the their inaugural season two years ago, provided their cutting edge as they showed last night just how far they have come.

They now host Wigan on Saturday and they have every chance of progressing further. They were certainly much too good for a Warrington side that took an understandable risk on the fitness of Lee Briers, Adrian Morley and Paul Rauhihi. The Wolves started brightly enough, but then fell in a heap to end their season with a fifth successive defeat.

Chris Hicks kept up his record of scoring in every match with an early penalty for the Wolves, but then Murphy got to work, getting outside Kevin Penny to collect Thomas Bosc's pass for the Catalans' first try. Murphy's second took him through a series of ineffectual tackles and then Bosc scored from Martin Gleeson's knock-down. Rugged down the middle and clinical out wide, the Catalans knew exactly where Warrington's weaknesses were.

Dimitri Pelo scored just before half-time and their captain, Casey McGuire, waltzed through some leaden-footed defence after that. Warrington got one back through Simon Grix, but it was a token effort.

The blood-and-gold flags waved proudly and the celebrations were well under way by the time Murphy completed his hat-trick from John Wilson's kick.

Gregory Mounis' try, after a dizzying move in which everyone seemed to handle the ball, was arguably the best of the lot, although Clint Greenshields – another star performer at full-back – got one that was almost as spectacular. When Murphy got over four his fourth, after wonderful handling from Adam Mogg and Wilson, Warrington were out on their feet. What had promised to be a memorable season had been turned to ashes by the fiery Dragons.

Nobody will relish a trip to the south of France now, least of all a Wigan side that hasalways struggled to hold them.

Warrington's coach James Lowse must seriously consider whether his side needs more drastic surgery than he had previously thought. The only consolation for them last night was that they were beaten by an extremely good rugby league team, playing the game the way it should be played.

Catalans: Greenshields; Murphy, Wilson, Raguin, Pelo; Mogg, Bosc; Chan, McGuire, Elima, Croker, Mounis, Carlaw. Substitutes used: Guisset, Casty, Fakir, Baile.

Warrington: Hicks; Riley, Gleeson, King, Penny; Briers, Monaghan; Morley, Clarke, Rauhihi, Westwood, Mitchell, Grix. Substitutes used: Wood, Bracek, Cooper, Blythe.

Referee: S Ganson (St Helens).