Wigan Warriors crush Catalans Dragons to dent momentum ahead of Challenge Cup final

Catalans Dragons 6-35 Wigan Warriors: Home side have shipped 92 points in their last two matches in what is the worst possible preparation for next weekend’s final

Ian Laybourn
Saturday 18 August 2018 20:38 BST
Morgan Escare scored twice for Wigan against his former side
Morgan Escare scored twice for Wigan against his former side (PA)

Catalans Dragons will go into next Saturday's Challenge Cup final on the back of consecutive crushing Super League defeats after going down 35-6 at home to Wigan.

Coming on the back of a 56-6 rout by final opponents Warrington, this six-try hammering was the worst possible preparation for the Dragons' big day at Wembley.

They have taken just a point from their last five league games and coach Steve McNamara was also handed an injury scare when full-back Tony Gigot pulled out of the game with an ankle problem, although the club remain confident he will be fit for Wembley.

McNamara, who was forced to turn to half-back Lucas Albert for the full-back role, will also be able to bring back Remi Casty, David Mead, Benjamin Garcia and Mickael Simon next week after resting them against Wigan.

Wigan's victory, which keeps them three points in front of third-placed Castleford in the hunt for a home semi-final, was effectively sealed by a two-try burst from former Catalans Dragons full-back Morgan Escare, who was pressed into service on the wing after Liam Marshall hobbled off after just eight minutes.

But the biggest thorn in McNamara's side was Wigan full-back Sam Tomkins, who will be playing in the colours of the home side in 2019.

Wigan won 32-23 at Stade Gilbert Brutus earlier in the season after trailing 23-4 but the boot was firmly on the other foot this time as the visitors raced into an 18-0 lead by half-time.

The Catalans carved out the first scoring chance through centre Brayden Wiliame but their finishing left a lot to be desired.

Wigan, conversely, were more clinical and quickly shook off the disappointment of losing Marshall by opening the scoring on nine minutes, second rower Joe Greenwood taking Sam Powell's pass close to the line to crash over for the first of his two tries.

The game then entered a period of stalemate until Tomkins produced a moment of magic that will whet the Dragons' fans appetite for next year to create Escare's first try.

The Warriors were camped inside their own 20-metre area when the England full-back opened up the home defence with a combination of pace and dazzling footwork and took play up to halfway before releasing the makeshift winger.

Tomkins kicked his second conversion to make it 12-0 and was off target with a drop-goal attempt before Escare grabbed his second try, pouncing on a handling error by former Wigan centre Iain Thornley.

Tomkins' third conversion made it 18-0 and prop Tony Clubb extended it by four points when he barged over for Wigan's fourth try two minutes into the second half.

The Dragons threatened a fightback when left winger Fouad Yaha plucked Josh Drinkwater's kick out of the air to touch down and the half-back added the conversion but it was a short-lived comeback.

Escare sensed a hat-trick after supporting a counter-attacking break from pacy winger Tom Davies before Thornley got back to make the tackle but the Catalans could not regroup in time to prevent stand-off George Williams crossing at the corner.

Williams then turned provider, getting Greenwood through a gap in the Dragons defence for his second try and Tomkins kicked his fifth goal before wrapping up the scoring with a last-second drop goal.


Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in