Wigan 42 Catalans 22

Liam Farrell goes over against Catalans
Liam Farrell goes over against Catalans

Wigan overcame the loss of Thomas Leuluai to injury to climb into the top-three with an ultimately-comfortable victory.

Tom Davies, Joe Burgess and Liam Forsyth each bagged doubles, with Liam Marshall and Liam Farrell also crossing in a strong finish at a sun-kissed DW Stadium.

Encouragingly, all five of their try-scorers were academy-products, while another - Sean O’Loughlin - produced a typically-towering display.

But the win came at a cost with Leuluai leaving the action early in the second-half clutching his jaw.

Without the influential Kiwi, Wigan briefly fell 22-20 behind on the scoreboard.

But they regained their composure to finish impressively and claim their third straight win ahead of next week’s mouthwatering clash at Castleford.

The fixture following the gruelling Easter schedule can often fall flat and, by that marker, this was more entertaining than most.

The score was locked 16-16 at the break, after a first-half of two halves.

Everything seemed to be going to plan when the Warriors ran in three tries to establish a 16-0 lead by the 20-minute mark.

But Catalans replied with three tries of their own before the hooter to level the matter.

While the visitors deserve praise for working their way back into the contest at a time when they could easily have crumbled, Wigan helped them all the way with some embarrassing lapses.

The ball was delivered by the Red Devils parachute team - part of the club’s salute to the Armed Forces on St George’s Day - and the home side pressed from the start.

So much so, there was a sense of inevitability to Wigan’s opening try, even if it was scored from deep in the 14th minute as Davies raced 90m, out-pacing the cover and arcing under the posts to give Morgan Escare a simple conversion.

The right-winger justified his selection ahead of fit-again Lewis Tierney with a second try three minutes later. Centre Forsyth punished a scattered defence before releasing his winger. Escare’s conversion attempt rebounded off the upright but, when Burgess powered over from short-range moments later, it didn’t seem to matter.

But an embarrassing mix-up from the kick-off between Willie Isa and Taulima Tautai - making his 100th appearance in the British game, with Wakefield and Wigan - was perhaps an early indication of the swinging fortunes.

And the Dragons took a foothold in the contest in the 27th minute when Fouad Yaha beat Marshall to a loose ball to make it 16-4.

With O’Loughlin rested, they appeared to lose some of their steely resolve, and the Dragons’ next two tries were softer, from Wigan’s stance. First, Escare spilled Luke Walsh’s high kick - an error he won’t want to see again - and Tony Gigot, the player who dislodged him from the full-back spot at Catalans, was on hand to ground the simplest of tries. Walsh’s goal make it 16-10 and, with two minutes before the break, Louis Anderson collected a high kick from the ex-St Helens halfback, which he converted.

In the second-half, Wigan took a leaf from the Dragons playbook, launching a high kick and regaining possession, and Forsyth profited to open up a 20-16 lead.

But three back-to-back penalties piggybacked Catalans down field, and the weight of possession cracked Wigan’s defence as Anderson marched through for his second try.

Walsh’s conversion edged the Dragons into the lead for the first-time, and things went from bad to worse for the home side, as Thomas Leuluai left the pitch clutching his jaw - he headed straight down the tunnel with the doctor.

Initially, Wigan looked rattled by his loss, but they dug deep and clawed their way back ahead, Forsyth weaving through to make it 24-22 on the hour-mark.

And on their next set, they powered further ahead with more wonderful link-up down the left channel between Farrell and George Williams, which sent Burgess clear for his second try.

Sam Powell took over the goal-kicking duties, and added the two points to wedge an eight-point lead between the sides.

Marshall, watched by dad David from the directors’ box, ensured he wasn’t going to miss out on the tryscoring. He finished off a shift to his left-edge close to the Dragons’ line, his 10th touchdown in nine first-team games, before Farrell added the crowning glory by finishing off Williams’ break. Powell kicked both conversions.

The result puts Wigan one point off the top of the table ahead of next week’s trip to Castleford after the Tigers were beaten 26-24 at Hull FC.