A MATTY Bowen wonder try with 62 seconds on the clock snatched a dramatic win for Wigan over Catalan Dragons.
In Sean O’Loughlin’s 300th career start for the Warriors, with the skipper returning from a shoulder injury, the tie was heading for only the second ever draw between the sides when Bowen bolted from his own half to touch down.
The away side got off the mark in the fourth minute with a flowing burst of rugby league eye candy which was as fit for theatre as a sports field.
A deep Matty Smith kick was allowed to bounce - and from nothing Mathias Pala made a break following a clutch of flowing passes. Leon Pryce had the ball in hand with Liam Farrell bearing down on him, but Mogran Escare had his team mate’s back to finish the move in style.
Warriors’ claggy attack was providing no threat to Catalan and an untidy set contributed to the French side’s second score six minutes later.
After a spilled ball, Farrell sent a forward pass to Joe Burgess inside his own 10 - gifting the Dragons a position to strike, which they did when Ben Pomeroy wriggled and shrugged his way over the line through flimsy defence.
Wigan finally got their act together on the half-hour mark when Bowen threw two smooth dummies to slide in after O’Loughlin had won a repeat set by forcing Pryce to knock a grubber kick dead.
In driving rain, Catalan opened the second half by quickly recovering from a knock-on at the kick-off to extend their lead on 45 minutes.
Pryce launched a wicked kick for Bowen to just about catch on his own line - but swarmed by a pack of chasers, the full-back spilled the ball for Escare to score his second try.
Going further behind seemed to act as a splash of cold water to the Warriors as their attack sharpened, first with Darrell Goulding going over in a chalked-off effort before Josh Charnley dove over to score on 53 minutes. Matty Smith nailed the touchline conversion to bring the champions back to within one score.
And with the majority of possession, the home side crossed again with 13 minutes to go when Smith put Farrell through a gap at close range, with the half back’s extras levelling the score.
With six minutes to go Smith had a chance to give Wigan the lead for the first time with a penalty from 30 metres but pushed his kick wide of the mark.
A frantic procession of charged down drop goal attempts followed until Bowen found himself through after another dummy parted the sea of defenders.
Read Phil Wilkinson’s full report and reaction in tomorrow’s (Saturday) Evening Post.
Wigan Warriors: Matty Bowen; Josh Charnley, Darrell Goulding, Iain Thornley, Joe Burgess; Blake Green, Matty Smith; Scott Taylor, Logan Tomkins, Ben Flower, Liam Farrell, John Bateman; Sean O’Loughlin
Replacements: Dom Crosby, Eddy Pettybourne, Tony Clubb, George Williams
Tries: Bowen 2, Charnley, Farrell
Goals: Smith 3
Catalan Dragons: Morgan Escare; Michael Oldfield, Ben Pomeroy, Daryl Millard, Mathias Pala; Leon Pryce, Thomas Bosc; Olivier Elima, Eloi Pelissier, Julian Bousquet, Zeb Taia, Louis Anderson; Gregory Mounis
Replacements: Antoni Maria, Lopini Paea, Jean-Philippe Baile, Benjamin Garcia
Tries: Escare 2, Pomeroy
Goals: Bosc 2
Referee: Tim Roby