Five talking points from Wigan Warriors' win over Catalans Dragons
Phil Wilkinson looks at five talking points from Wigan's win over Catalans on Saturday.
1. It wasn’t Wigan’s greatest comeback in modern history... but it wasn’t far off.
Trailing 15-0 at half-time and 21-0 soon after the restart, they went on to score six tries without reply. It was a remarkable turn of events which had fans reminiscing of their epic fightback at Bradford in the play-offs in 2007. The beaten coach that day? One Steve McNamara.
As the fans left the ground, shaking their heads in wonderment at what they had witnessed, one summed up the crazy second-half perfectly when he said: “Wigan... they don’t half put you through the sausage mill.”
2. Sean O’Loughlin, take a bow.
The England captain produced a towering display, switching from prop to stand-off when George Williams left the action, and guiding Wigan’s fightback with his rare combination of class, aggression and composure.
McNamara, his former England coach, felt he was the difference between the two sides.
Shaun Wane was equally as gushing, hailing O’Loughlin as “the very best”. Asked if he hoped he would play on until he is 40, Wane replied: “No... 45.”
3. Catalans coach McNamara could find himself in hot water for his comments about referee Liam Moore after the match.
He said his side have been on the wrong-side of the penalty count in all but one of their matches this season, and hinted there was an agenda against the French outfit.
“We did some dumb things ourselves, but I’m telling you, it’s as if Catalans shouldn’t be beating Wigan,” he said.
Angry Catalans fans vented their anger at Moore, who was escorted out of the ground. Some fans felt the lengthy deliberations of video official Phil Bentham more frustrating – and the decision to deny Joe Burgess an opening try baffling.
4. Off the field, Catalans... they do it right.
The Gilbert Brutus stadium is a smart venue, with food vans and bars behind the stands, and enough space for children to play improvised games of touch rugby.
Club officials and staff are nearby bars are welcoming, and it’s little surprise so many Wigan fans still make the annual trip to the south of France – even if the rail strikes caused problems for some.
5. And so Wigan finished the long Easter programme with three wins from four, a decent return by any measure – even if the one loss was against St Helens.
They head to Leeds on Friday knowing a similar slow start will be more ruthlessly punished. Wane will be hoping there won’t be any after-effects from the tiring 24-hour trip which was delayed on each end.