Wane satisfied with opening day win

Micky McIlorum scored two tries
Micky McIlorum scored two tries

SHAUN Wane was satisfied with Wigan’s opening day victory against Catalans.

He praised their spirited display as they emerged from the hard-fought contest with the two points he was “desperate” for.

Two first-half tries by Micky McIlorum proved crucial as the Warriors clinched a 12-6 victory in front of a crowd of more than 13,000.

An error-littered display by the French outfit, coupled with a tigerish defensive effort, saw the home side hang on in a tight second-half.

“I was desperate to get the two points,” said Wane.

“The new ball was unbelievably poor, I thought we handled the conditions better. We were smart, most of the time.

“We were good for the two points against a good Catalans team.

“We performed to a certain standard for large periods.

“Our finishing in the final third was off.”

Wane felt the margin of the victory could, and should, have been bigger.

Two tries were ruled out by the video referee including an effort from Josh Charnley, who collected a pass from Dan Sarginson - but the extra official ruled it was a knock-on.

“If that wasn’t a try, the Grand Final one wasn’t - I just don’t get it,” said Wane. “Absolutely, if that’s not a try...”

The constant drizzle compounded the opening day rust, but Wigan adapted better to the conditions.

The debut of Willie Isa and Pat Richards’ return to the DW - the venue where he cast his legacy - provided the sub-plots in the build-up to this eagerly-awaited opener.

Isa’s inclusion was in second-row, with captain Sean O’Loughlin lining up at prop on the team-sheet - though his involvement was unchanged.

Dan Sarginson returned for his first game since July and, as expected, Lewis Tierney deputised at full-back for injured Sam Tomkins.

The constant down-pour and the boggy pitch - this was the third game inside a week on the surface - weren’t conducive to an open, entertaining contest.

Indeed, when Paul Aiton spilled at the play-the-ball in the opening set, it hinted at the error-strewn match which was to unfold.

Wigan had the better attacking chances, thanks in part to a Matty Smith 40-20 which sailed over the head of Richards and set up a solid position.

Catalans’ hopes weren’t helped by the loss of new hooker Aiton to an arm injury. How they wished they had a No.9 at dummy-half minutes later when Glenn Stewart’s awkward pass was juggled by Krisnan Inu.

The ball squeezed out in Ben Flower’s crunching tackle, and McIlorum was on hand to collect and dive over for their opening try of the year.

Incredibly, Smith’s conversion attempt - from just to the left of the posts - rebounded off the frame.

Another Dragons error at the play-the-ball - the third inside a quarter - paved the way for Wigan’s second try four minutes later.

George Williams probed into the defence, and was able to twist and feed the supporting McIlorum.

If Catalans did show signs of improvement, it was that they began spilling the ball in Wigan’s half, rather than their own.

The introduction of giant forward Dave Taylor gave the Dragons more presence up front, but he caused the home defence few problems.

Without making eye-catching contributions, Isa impressed on his first outing. He rushed into tackles and was aggressive on the right side.

At 10-0 at the break, Wigan were on their way to ‘nilling’ Catalans for a sixth time at the DW - the French outfit have only had two other shutouts against other Super League clubs.

But that chance slipped through their fingers within two minutes of the restart. Ex-Manly forward Justin Horo latched onto Richie Myler’s kick, and the video referee gave the try the green-light.

Richards’ conversion was a formality, cutting the margin to just four points.

A high-shot by Gregory Mounis on Tony Clubb amped up the volume from the stands, and Wigan reacted, picking up the tempo to march down field, where Smith kicked a penalty to open up a 12-6 lead.

The tight scoreline and simmering tensions made the rest of the game enjoyable, even though it produced no further score.

Wigan travel to Huddersfield next Friday - their last game before the World Club Series clash against Australian heavyweights Brisbane Broncos.

Wigan: Tierney; Charnley, Gelling, Sarginson, Manfredi; Williams, Smith; Flower, McIlorum, O’Loughlin, Isa, Farrell, Bateman. Subs: Clubb, Powell, Tautai, Sutton.

Catalans: Gigot; Yaha, Inu, Duport, Richards; Carney, Myler; Bousquet, Aiton, Anderson, Stewart, Horo, Baitieri. Subs: Taylor, Mounis, Elima, Pelissier.

Half-time: 10-0

Attendance: 13,436

Starman: Willie Isa

Referee: Ben Thaler