Friendly: Catalans 22 Wigan 26

Joe Burgess scored two early tries as Wigan turned on the style to beat Catalans 26-22 in a pre-season friendly.

Saturday, 28th January 2017, 4:53 pm
Updated Saturday, 28th January 2017, 6:11 pm
Joe Burgess is congratulated after scoring a try

Burgess, playing his first game since returning from the NRL, crossed twice in the first half to help put the Warriors into a 20-6 lead at the break.

Both sides were scratchy at times, the Warriors composed in the first-half but scrappier afterwards, but it was an entertaining, free-scoring pre-season game in Perpignan.

The match came at the end of a week-long training camp in the south of France, and was Wigan’s last senior warm-up game before they start the new Super League season at Salford on February 11.

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A half-strength Wigan side had lost 50-10 at Leigh a week earlier. But the squad for Saturday’s match was far more formidable, with Burgess, Ben Flower, John Bateman and Liam Farrell all making their first appearance of the year - in a chequered academy kit.

Catalans, who lost to Toulouse a week earlier, fielded their strongest side which included the returning Greg Bird at loose forward.

And the home outfit made a great start, with ex-Hull FC prop Sam Moa - back in Super League after a spell at Sydney Roosters - crashing over in the sixth minute. Another of the Dragons’ off-season arrivals, former St Helens halfback Luke Walsh, converted to make it 6-0.

The rest of the half belonged to Wigan, who showed some neat attacking combinations to register four unanswered tries.

Burgess crossed from a sweet Sean O’Loughlin pass, and on the other edge, Lewis Tierney swerved over after Thomas Leuluai had picked apart the Dragons’ defence. Morgan Escare struck the second conversion, to make it 10-6.

Burgess powered Wigan further ahead in the 31st minute, slipping beyond Krisnan Inu from a scrum-base move and surging through a scattered defence.

And then two minutes later came the pick of the tries, as Escare cut through in the middle, and had the presence of mind to angle a kick into the path of the impressive Liam Marshall, who punted the ball on and touched it down.

Jake Shorrocks, one of 11 substitutes, took over the goal-kicking and was on target to make it 20-6.

Joel Tomkins came off the bench for his first appearance since July, and the former dual-code international was keen to get stuck in during a solid stint.

But Wigan faded from the restart, gifting the Dragons easy field position from which Inu went over following an angled break by Walsh, who added the conversion.

And before the hour-mark, an error by young forward Callum Field eventually led to Catalans’ powerful winger Fouad Yaha, with Walsh on target to reel in the margin to just two points.

Tom Davies and Inu exchanged tries, Escare on target with his goal, to make it 26-22 and in an entertaining finish, Wigan dug deep to hang on to the win.

Dragons: Wiliame; Broughton, Inu, Duport, Yaha; Walsh, Myler; Bousquet, Da Costa, Moa, Garcia, Horo, Bird. Subs: Gigot, Casty, Baitieri, Burgess, Khedimi, Simon, Séguier.

Wigan team: Escaré; Tierney, Gelling, Forsyth, Burgess; Williams, Leuluai; Sutton, Powell, Nuuausala, Bateman, Farrell, O’Loughlin.

Subs: Ganson, Flower, Shorrocks, Bretherton, Field, T Davies, Shelford, Navarrete, Woods, Marshall, J Tomkins.