Catalans 6 Wigan 26

Wigan powered to a seventh straight win to move level on points with leaders Hull FC at the top of the table.

Saturday, 2nd July 2016, 6:08 pm
Updated Saturday, 2nd July 2016, 8:42 pm
Sam Tomkins helped Wigan to victory

Three first-half tries by Dan Sarginson, Ryan Sutton and Oliver Gildart sent them on their way to a hugely-impressive victory.

Justin Horo scored Catalans’ only try after the break, but a touchdown by Dom Manfredi ensured there would be no nervous finish.

And with Hull FC and Warrington faltering this round, it allowed Shaun Wane’s side to step up their charge at the summit - and underline their trophy-winning credentials.

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Hull and second-placed Wigan have 30 points, with Warrington (27) and Catalans (26) completing the top-four.

Catalans had many former players including Steve Menzies, Jason Croker and Justin Murphy among a bumper crowd as part of their 10th anniversary celebrations.

But Wigan ruined the party with a resilient and composed display, underpinned by a spirited attitude. In an all-round strong team display, there were notable contributions from Sutton, Ben Flower, Oliver Gildart and unsung hero Sam Powell.

Catalans, who won the corresponding fixture 58-16 last year, went into the game just two points behind the Warriors. And they also needed the win to boost their big-game credentials - they had failed to win any of their previous five games against top-four opposition, despite a strong campaign.

The Warriors - wearing a shirt with the Joining Jack charity emblazoned on their shirt - flew to France on game-day.

And the change of tact appeared to pay off as they overcame a tough start to take a grip of the contest. They led 20-2 at half-time thanks to three tries and a flawless goal-kicking display from Matty Smith.

With a raft of absences, Wigan had 12 academy-products in their side including Jake Shorrocks on the bench, in only his second game at this level.

Catalans had a strong local flavour to their line-up, too, with 11 homegrown players.

The early exchanges were punctuated with knock-ons and penalties, but they were so fast and ferocious it made for enthralling viewing. Catalans had the first real attacking chance when Lucas Albert’s weighted grubber into the ingoal was chased by Tony Gigot, but George Williams was alert to the threat.

Former Warrior Pat Richards - who has a roon at the Wigan training room named in his honour - broke the deadlock with a 10th minute penalty.

Wigan were reduced to 12-men when Lee Mossop was sinbinned for a needless trip on Gigot.

Yet despite being a man down, they took advantage of Catalans’ indiscipline to cross twice and take control.

Sutton - again operating at second-row - released Josh Charnley with a well-picked pass, and his inside ball was eventually grounded by Sarginson.

A fumble by the erratic Gigot handed Wigan unexpected good position, and later in the set Smith fed Sutton, who crossed beyond a flapping Jason Baitieri.

The third try, on the half-hour, was the pick of the bunch.

Gildart, who has swapped sides with fellow centre Sarginson, received the ball and showed terrific pace and balance to weave through a scattered defence.

Smith’s third conversion made it 18-2, and a breakdown in the television broadcast meant viewers in England missed Smith nudging them further ahead with a 35th minute penalty.

Their lead was reduced to 14 points early after the restart when Horo fended off both Smith and Sarginson on an angled charge to the corner.

Among the infringements pulled up by Gareth Hewer, he missed Todd Carney pulling Taulima Tautai’s hair as he attempted to halt the prop.

Wigan wasted some promising chances before engineering their fourth try before the hour-mark.

Sarginson grubbered on for Manfredi to chase, and the winger beat Richards and touched down with a spectacular dive before tumbling over the deadball line. Smith maintained his 100 per cent record and they held on for arguably one of their best victories of the year.

Catalans: Gigot; Broughton, Garcia, Duport, Richards; Carney, Albert; Casty, Pelissier, Taylor, Stewart, Horo, Baitieri. Subs: Bousquet, Bosc, Maria, Navarrete

Wigan : Tomkins; Manfredi, Sarginson, Gildart, Charnley; Williams, Smith; Flower, Powell, Mossop, Sutton, Isa, O’Loughlin. Subs: Tautai, Burke, Shorrocks, Bretherton

Half-time: 2-20