Warrington went to the top of Super League, but only after fighting off a mid-game resurgence from a previously unbeaten Catalan Dragons side who were often their own worst enemies.
Brent Webb was sent to the sin-bin twice and the Dragons were on the wrong side of a heavy penalty count, as two tries from the Wolves’ winger Joel Monaghan gave them an advantage they were never to completely lose.
The Catalans were without their prop forward, Julian Bousquet, suspended for four matches for a widely-condemned tackle on Salford’s Theo Fages last weekend. More potentially damaging to his team was the absence of the Warrington playmaker Lee Briers with a neck injury.
It was his replacement, Stefan Ratchford, however, who produced the pass that gave them their first try, scored by Joel Monaghan.
The second from the same combination was controversial, with Chris Riley appearing to have put his foot in touch. There was no argument three minutes later when Trent Waterhouse’s break and inside pass released Richie Myler.
As if the French team had not done themselves enough damage with the multitude of penalties they had conceded, they had Webb sent to the sin-bin for interfering in the tackle. Despite that, they got their first points before half-time through Damien Blanch’s try.
That seemed to give the hitherto outgunned visitors the encouragement they needed. Ten minutes into the second half, Riley left his wing unattended, Blanch scoring his second try from Thomas Bosc’s dummy half scuttle and Bosc landing his second excellent conversion.
The Wolves were under pressure, but only until Myler’s kick and chase which was spectacularly touched down by Rhys Evans. Brett Hodgson’s third conversion made it a 10-point gap.
Bad feeling was simmering, culminating in a flare-up between Webb and Ben Westwood, both of whom went to the bin. For a moment it looked as if Webb might want to carry it on off the field. “I’ve coached Webby and I’ve a lot of time for him as a player, but he’d lost his rag there on the touchline,” said the Warrington coach, Tony Smith.
His Catalan counterpart, Laurent Frayssinous, said: “We need to be more disciplined – with the ball, in defence and with the referee.”
Zeb Taia, the big winter signing from Newcastle, got one back for the Catalans three minutes from time, but Bosc missed a simple conversion.
Warrington: Hodgson; J Monaghan, Evans, Atkins, Riley; Briers, Myler; Morley, M Monaghan, Hill, Waterhouse, Westwood, Grix. Substitutes used: Higham, Carvell, Cooper, Wood
Catalan Dragons: Webb; Blanch, Menzies, Duport, Millard; Pryce, Bosc; Casty, Henderson, Fakir, Anderson, Taia, Baitieri. Substitutes used: Elima, Pelissier, Larroyer, Simon.
Referee: R Silverwood