Catalans 6 Wigan 35: Five things we learned
Five things we learned from Wigan's 35-6 victory at Catalans on Saturday...
1. Wigan are tightening their grip on second spot. Whisper it quietly, but they also appear like a side building.
This was an impressive performance illuminated by some fine individual performances - and Shaun Wane still has quality players to drip-feed back into the side.
Consider this: Had the Warriors lost to Castleford last week and to the Dragons, they would have dropped to third, been looking over their shoulders at the threat posed by Warrington and resurgent Huddersfield and alarm bells would have been ringing.
Instead, they have just played very well, they occupy second spot - which is rewarded with a home semi-final - and they have a three-point buffer on Castleford.
2. The one disappointment from the game was a knee injury to Liam Marshall.
He will have the joint scanned when he returns to England but the indications suggest damage to his ACL - the same injury which ended Joe Burgess’ season.
It is a real shame for Marshall, who had backed up his breakthrough campaign with another impressive, 17-try season. His place will likely go to fit-again Dom Manfredi.
3. Wigan made breaks and scored some scorching tries - but what about the defence?
They limited Catalans to one, well-taken try, closed down their half-chances quickly and punctuated proceedings with some bone-jarring shots.
And leading the way on that front was hooker-turned-halfback Thomas Leuluai - he had more big hits than Bon Jovi’s Greatest Hits.
Wigan’s former media manager Tim Fisher tweeted: “There isn’t enough money in the world to convince me to run at Tommy Leuluai.”
4. Other highlights for Wigan included:
Two-try Joe Greenwood is becoming an increasing threat; two-try Morgan Escare dazzled as Marshall’s replacement and enjoyed the extra game-time; Sam Tomkins, playing in front of his future employers, showed what he was about; George Williams showed flashes of quality - he usually operates on the left but scored a try on the right edge; Ollie Partington backed up his strong debut with another good outing.
5. Just like Warrington the day before, Catalans looked like a side with eyes on Wembley.
The famous trophy actually made an appearance at the match and Challenge Cup Final media duties for the players began less than 24 hours after the Wigan fixture.
Wembley fever has taken over Perpignan. Catalans have sold 2,500 tickets but say they have struggled chartering flights because of the short notice and time of the year - the Dragons have even taken a financial hit on the four flights they have arranged.
Many Wigan fans will have sympathy; they were unable to secure flights for this match at such short notice.