Wigan Warriors 46 Catalans Dragons 12

Bevan French fried the French side with a sizzling hat-trick as Wigan sharpened their knives for the play-offs.
Bevan French slid overBevan French slid over
Bevan French slid over

The late-season recruit from Parramatta crossed twice before the break, when the hosts led 14-0, and added a third soon after the restart to spark an onslaught.

Handed a second start in place of injured Liam Marshall on the right wing, French exhibited scorching pace and lethal footwork for two of his scores - and finished the night with two assists as well.

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And on an all-round good night for the Warriors which saw them tighten their grip on second spot, another promising youngster announced himself on the big stage, with Harry Smith marking an impressive debut with try moments after second-half introduction.

Teenager Smith became the sixth academy-product to get a debut under Lam this year.

Two more, Liam Byrne and Morgan Smithies, also figured in a side which played with admirable energy and cohesion to stretch their golden run to 11 wins from their last 12 matches.

With Warrington and Salford both winning, it means Wigan may need to beat Castleford next Friday to secure second spot before the play-offs.

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Catalans, it must be said, were poor. With no possibility of making the play-offs, their early resistance crumbled and their errors and ill-discipline were frequently punished by Adrian Lam's outfit.

All their points came from ex-Wigan players, with Micky McIlorum and Lewis Tierney crossing for tries and Sam Tomkins converting both.

The sides started set for set but a fumble by Joe Burgess led to a spell of dominance for the visitors; the upshot from a home perspective was watching them defend their line with aggression and desperation, with Tony Clubb, Oli Partington and Smithies among those impressing.

Liam Farrell was sinbinned for a tip tackle on Greg Bird as the game inched to the quarter stage but despite the numerical disadvantage, the Warriors were improving, and the Catalans line showed signs of creaking.

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Oliver Gildart hacked on a loose ball, but his football skills let him down, and the Dragons snuffed out another chance on the wing.

But French broke the deadlock before the half-hour mark, taking a looping pass and having the pace to dive over.

Mikael Simon slid in with knees as he crossed, and referee Robert Hicks indicated an eight-point try, giving Hardaker two shots at goal which he converted.

Before the break, French punished a spill by Arthur Romano, carving through a scattered defence with a fend, step, fend and blazing run for the line.

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Hardaker tagged on the extras to make it 14-0 and from the restart, French wasted little time in extending their advantage.

Like his second, he had no right no score it, but a sharp right-foot step opened up a gap which he accelerated through to swell their advantage to 20 points.

McIlorum ensured Catalans would not suffer the indignity of being nilled, like their last trip in March, with a try converted by another Wigan old-boy, Tomkins.

And moments later Tomkins prevented French from scoring his fourth try with a crunching tackle - only for the Aussie to release a pass to the supporting Hardaker, who jinked over.

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He missed his first conversion of the night but with Catalans collapsing, he made no mistake moments later after Tommy Leuluai had muscled his way over to make it 30-6.

Smith came off the bench for his debut with 25 minutes to go and quickly made an impression, collecting a measured angled kick by Burgess to mark his first match with a try.

He added the conversion to open up a 30-point gap.

Losing the game, Catalans threatened to lose their cool, too, with a string of penalties before a late scoring flurry.

French punted a kick on for Dan Sarginson to cross, converted by Hardaker, before Tierney and Oliver Gildart exchanged tries.

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Wigan: Hardaker; French, Sarginson, Gildart, Burgess; Williams, Leuluai; Clubb, Powell, Partington, Isa, Farrell, Smithies. Subs: Smith, Navarrete, Greenwood, Byrne

Catalans: Tomkins; Romano, Langi, Wiliame, Tierney; Bird, Albert; Maria, McIlorum, Bousquet, Jullien, Whitlet, Casty. Subs: Simon, Goudemand, DaCosta, Baitieri.

Referee: Robert Hicks

Half-time: 14-0

Attendance: 10,804

Starman: Bevan French