Wigan 24 Catalans Dragons 18: Higham and Dobson help Wigan to grind out victory

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The Independent Online

Wigan ground out a victory made even more vital to their survival hopes by their two main relegation rivals winning earlier in the day. It was never pretty, but the alertness of Micky Higham at hooker and Michael Dobson's kicking game were enough to stop the game's most famous club slipping any closer to the trapdoor.

The Warriors' fans greeted the announcement of Kris Radlinski named for his comeback as though it guaranteed their resurrection. "Kris went great for a bloke who's done nothing for 15 months," said their coach, Brian Noble.

Radlinski could do nothing about the error-strewn opening that saw the Catalans go ahead through Chris Beattie's try after Bryan Fletcher had lost the ball, and waste two other opportunities when Adel Fellous and Bruno Verges both knocked on. In between those two reprieves, Higham equalised for Wigan, darting on a diagonal run, and they took the lead when Dobson's kick was snapped up by Nathan McAvoy. Verges got his try when Pat Richards missed Sean Rudder's kick, but Wigan had their noses in front at the break, thanks to two penalties from Dobson.

His immaculate kicking put them further in front after 49 minutes, before Wigan clinched the result they needed so desperately with a clever switch of play from Higham to send Fletcher over. Even then, it was too close for comfort at the end as John Wilson caught Stacey Jones' cross field kick and swept pass Chris Ashton, but Wigan had done just enough.

Nor, according to their owner, Dave Whelan, are they looking for any back-door reprieve by persuading the winners of National League One to stay down. "We will never, ever stoop to those levels,'' Whelan said. "If we go down, we'll deserve to go down. We'll accept it and fight like hell to come back next year.''

Wigan: Ashton; Richards, Radlinski, McAvoy, Dallas; Orr, Dobson; Logan, Higham, Fletcher, Hock, Tickle, O'Loughlin. Substitutes used: Paleaaesina, Seuseu, Godwin, Hill.

Catalans: Guigye; Murphy, Wilson, Khattabi, Verges; Rudder, Jones; Beattie, Rinaldi, Fellous, Fakir, Hindmarsh, Guisset. Substitutes used: Frayssinous, Chan, Mounis, Casty.

Referee: S Ganson (St Helens).

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