- Match report as Wigan Warriors beat Catalans Dragons at the DW Stadium on Friday night.
- Scores from Willie Isa and James McDonnell were enough to see the Warriors to victory.
- FT | Wigan Warriors 12-8 Catalans Dragons.
There were two scores for either side in a close contest at the DW Stadium on Friday evening, but two successful conversions from the boot of Zak Hardaker were the difference and enough to hand Wigan the 12-8 victory.
Willie Isa opened the scoring on the evening as he captained the Warriors for the first time. Tom Davies grabbed one back for the visitors, but the conversion effort was missed to see Wigan with a narrow half time lead. James McDonnell scored his first senior try for the Warriors in the second half, before Matthieu Laguerre bagged a second for the Dragons but the two successful conversions from Hardaker saw Wigan to the win.
The Warriors made six changes from last week’s 10-0 win over Hull FC, Willie Isa returned from suspension to captain the Warriors for the first time with Joe Bullock, Tony Clubb, James McDonnell, Brad O’Neill and Mitch Clark all coming into the starting 17.
Wigan started brightly as Jackson Hastings earned the Warriors a 40/20 to get them deep inside the Dragons territory in the opening minutes, the visitors survived the early pressure though as the ball was spilled forward.
Catalans were next to ask the questions, earning back-to-back penalties to put them within 30 meters of the Wigan goal line. The Warriors defence backed up well before the Dragons were given a set restart whilst still in front of the Wigan back line, Joel Tomkins came up with the error to see Wigan relieved of pressure and back on the ball.
Wigan had a good ten-minute spell following the Catalans press, Jake Bibby added some blistering pace to break through but was tackled just a few meters short and stripped of the ball in a one-on-one tackle, but with the Warriors soon back in possession Hastings tipped a diagonal ball to Sam Halsall who just knocked the ball forward in the in-goal and the score remained 0-0.
Wigan broke the deadlock in the 27th minute, Hastings put a grubber through for captain Isa to chase and pounce on the ball first. Zak Hardaker added the extras from the right touchline to give Wigan the 6-0 advantage at the half time break.
It was a quiet start to the second half with both sides going set for set. Harry Smith notched the second 40/20 of the evening with a fine kick but Wigan lost the ball on the first play of the set to hand possession back to Catalans, though deep inside their own territory.
Tom Davies got one back for Catalans in the 52nd minute, Mike McMeeken burst through the defence to leave an overlap and send Davies away for the score. James Maloney missed the extras from the touchline but the Dragons were back within touching distance as Wigan led 6-4.
James McDonnell got the DW Stadium bouncing in the 62nd minute, weaving his way through the Dragons defence and bouncing off a defender in front of the posts to score his first senior try in Cherry and White. Hardaker added the conversion directly in front of the South Stand to put Wigan 12-4 ahead with less than 20 minutes to play.
Catalans edged one back 10 minutes later, Kai Pearce-Paul attempted to stop the grubber through but the loose ball stood up on the goal line for Matthieu Laguerre to get a second for the Dragons, Maloney was off target again with the conversion attempt to see the score at 12-8 to Wigan with the minutes ticking down.
Catalans had back-to-back sets at the Wigan goal line with three minutes to go, but the Warriors held firm to deny the visitors who came up with the error. Sam Kasiano was then sent to the sin bin for dissent, leaving the Dragons down to 12-men for the remainder of the game.
Hardaker looked to have wrapped the match up with just over a minute to play spotting a gap and heading under the uprights but the ball came free before the full back could ground it. It did not matter though as Wigan held on for the win and head into the Betfred Super League Play-Offs with back-to-back wins to end the regular 2021 season.
The Warriors will face Leeds Rhinos next Thursday, 23rd September (7:45pm K.O.) at the DW Stadium in the first Play-Off Eliminator Game. Read more HERE.
Wigan Warriors: Zak Hardaker, Jake Bibby, Willie Isa, Oliver Gildart, Sam Halsall, Harry Smith, Jackson Hastings, Joe Bullock, Joe Shorrocks, Tony Clubb, Kai Pearce-Paul, James McDonnell, Oliver Partington.
Interchanges: Liam Byrne, Mitch Clark, Ethan Havard, Brad O’Neill.
Tries: Isa (27′), McDonnell (62′)
Goals: Hardaker 2/2
Catalans Dragons: Sam Tomkins, Tom Davies, Samisoni Langi, Dean Whare, Matthieu Laguerre, James Maloney, Josh Drinkwater, Gil Dudson, Michael McIlorum, Julian Bousquet, Matt Whitley, Mike McMeeken, Joel Tomkins.
Interchanges: Arthur Mourgue, Mickael Goudemand, Ben Garcia, Sam Kasiano.
Tries: Davies (52′), Laguerre (72′)
Goals: Maloney 0/2
Sin-bin: Kasiano (77′)
Referee: James Child