Catalans Dragons 58 Wigan Warriors 16

Shaun Wane
Shaun Wane
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SHAUN Wane suffered his heaviest defeat as Wigan coach after Catalans carved them to pieces in the south of France.

The white-hot Dragons registered 10 tries to become the first team to put a half-century of points past the Warriors since 2008.

Wigan rarely showed any of the golden form which had saw them claim five straight wins going into last week’s Challenge Cup loss. They lacked confidence and composure, and their brittle defence was ruthlessly punished by a rampant home side.

The defeat saw 3rd place Wigan fail to reclaim 2nd spot, and they will need to make urgent improvements before their next match - Saturday’s headlining match against Leeds at the Magic Weekend.

Wigan opened the scoring through Josh Charnley, but spent the majority of the opening half on the back-foot as Catalans racked up six tries before the break.

Since winning at the Dragons last July, the Warriors have won just one of 12 games away from the DW Stadium - form which contrasts sharply with their impressive home run.

But none of those away day losses were as comprehensive as this - against a team which went into the round with the second-worse defence in Super League.

As woeful as Wigan were, Catalans were wonderful. Scott Dureau kicked masterfully at a wind-swept ground and linked-up well with fellow Aussie halfback Todd Carney, while rampaging Zeb Taia and Tony Gigot each finished with a hat-trick.

Ben Flower travelled to the south of France but failed a late fitness test, with fellow Welshman Rhodri Lloyd profiting from his absence in only his second appearance of the year.

But the big change was at full-back, where Matty Bowen ended a two-month exile following Ryan Hampshire’s shaky display in the 16-12 Challenge Cup loss to Hull KR.

And Bowen was involved early, sending Charnley clear of former Kangaroos international Willie Tonga and then showing great awareness to roll out of Morgan Escare’s tackle, escaping his clutches and crossing in front of several baffled Catalans defenders.

Referee James Child - praised in the build-up by Wane for controlling a “brutal” contest at Perpignan the year before - saw no problems, and Matty Smith’s conversion took a fortuitous bounce off the upright to make it 6-0.

But Catalans improved rapidly and scored three tries without reply. If Tonga was at fault for the opener, he made amends minutes later with a neat one-handed pass to send teenage winger Fouad Yaha over past Charnley.

Errors swept into Wigan’s performance, inviting Catalans into their own half, and with the Dragons swinging the ball to both flanks crisply, Gigot was able to step beyond Dan Sarginson for his first.

The visitors fell further behind when the dangerous Taia cut between Lloyd and Smith for a try Dureau converted.

But Tualima Tuatai’s acrobatic collection of the resulting kick-off put Wigan on the offensive and - after a penalty from a high-shot on Ryan Sutton - they cut the deficit to six-points as Dan Sarginson powered his way over.

If that try raised hopes of a fightback, they were quickly extinguished as the Dragons ran in three tries before the break.

First, Taia showed great skill to ground Dureau’s troubling kick before he tumbled over the deadball line. And then Gigot bagged his second touchdown after Michael Oldfield had found space beyond Joe Burgess.

And with less than a minute until the break, the Dragons still managed to sneak another try when Carney’s stunning bullet-pass sent powerhouse winger Yaha over for his second.

Dureau kicked three difficult conversions to make it 34-10 at the break.

Rescuing the game always seemed unlikely, but Burgess’ try early after the restart, from a smart Sarginson pass, cut the margin to 18 points.

But just like the first half, Catalans roared back from that setback as Dureau’s neat cut-out pass sent Oldfield cantering over.

Wigan didn’t give up but they continued to make silly errors which kept them on the ropes.

Taia bagged his hat-trick after Dureau’s kick took a wicked bounce, and then livewire Escare continued the carve up to push Catalans beyond the half-century mark. Gigot completed his hat-trick to add the French polish to a victory which sent out a loud statement of the Catalans’ trophy-winning credentials.

Catalans: Escare; Oldfield, Gigot, Tonga, Yaha; Carney, Dureau; Elima, Henderson, Casty, Taia, Whitehead, Baitieri. Subs: Anderson, Mounis, Pelissier, Bosquet.

Wigan: Bowen; Burgess, Tomkins, Sarginson, Charnley; Powell, Smith; Crosby, McIlorum, Mossop, Bateman, Patrick, O’Loughlin. Subs: Williams, Tautai, Sutton, Lloyd.

Referee: James Child

Half-time: 34-10