Wigan Warriors 42 Catalans Dragons 0

Joe Burgess scored a hat-trick as Wigan produced a sparkling performance which answered many questions raised during their rocky start to the season.

Sunday, 31st March 2019, 6:04 pm
Updated Sunday, 31st March 2019, 6:18 pm
Joe Burgess scored a hat-trick

They obliterated Catalans in the second-half, scoring five tries in less than 20 minutes to claim a second successive win.

Burgess' treble was one of many positives as Wigan moved up to eighth in the table, just two points from fourth spot.They were bullish in defence and attacked with enterprise and energy to ensure it was an unhappy homecoming for Sam Tomkins in front of 11,106 fans.

Burgess scored the first-half's only try before the hosts cut-loose after the break. Burgess crossed twice more, sandwiching efforts from George Williams and Oliver Gildart, before Zak Hardaker added a try to his seven goals.

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Jarrod Sammut crossed just before the hooter - his first for the club - to add more gloss to this one-sided dress-rehearsal for the Camp Nou showdown in May.

Yes, Catalans looked travel-sick, but this would have been an impressive performance in any circumstances.

Considering where Wigan were eight days ago, and their list of absentees and the quality in the opposition ranks, this was bordering on the surreal - and certainly exceeded all expectations.

Wigan had a considerable list of absentees and frustratingly for Lam, they were all concentrated to the pack.

Sean O'Loughlin and Tony Clubb dropped out through injury, Gabe Hamlin through illness and Joe Greenwood through suspension - joining Taulima Tautai, Liam Farrell and Sam Powell on the sidelines.

Those absentees opened up opportunities for young forwards Oli Partington, Liam Paisley, Liam Byrne and debutant Morgan Smithies - who collectively had 15 appearances between them.

Tomkins' inclusion in the Catalans squad was the obvious line in the build-up but they were also boosted by the return from injury of ex-NRL duo Greg Bird and Sam Moa, while Sam Kasiano - a recent recruit from Melbourne - was on the bench.

Tomkins' first touch was greeted with some pantomime boos from the home crowd as the early exchanges set the tone for the first-half - physical, open and with few interruptions from referee James Child.

Wigan, their confidence buoyed by last week's win at Salford, had the best chance of the opening quarter when Williams stabbed a kick through from 40m out for Joe Burgess to chase, forcing a repeat set.

At the other end, Catalans didn't trouble the hosts' line and Dom Manfredi and Zak Hardaker cleaned up kicks fired their way.

The Warriors cracked the game open in the 20th minute. After a left-to-right attack and Sammut's solo effort, Williams chipped the ball to the left flank where Burgess leapt to beat his former team-mate Lewis Tierney to the ball.

Hardaker added the conversion.

Smithies entered the action for his debut just before half-time and though there were few clear-cut scoring chances, Hardaker nudged Wigan further ahead with a penalty after the half-time siren.

Burgess looked sharp on his return from an 11-month absence last week. And he built on that display, lighting up the early moments of the second-half with a break and then defusing two Dragons attacks.

And he was then responsible for extending their lead, finishing off a fabulous attack involving both halfbacks, an improvised off-load from Paisley, a flickpass from Gildart and a spectacular dive from Burgess.

Hardaker was off-radar with the conversion but at 12-0 ahead entering the last half-hour, they looked in great position.

England academy international Smithies is only 18, but he certainly wasn't phased by the occasion or opposition and motored through an impressive defensive shift.

And approaching the hour-mark, Wigan surged into a three-score lead, Gildart turning on the after-burners to beat Gigot and find Williams in support. Hardaker converted and he tagged on a penalty moments later to make it 20-0.

And just when some fans may have started to wonder whether that was enough to secure the two points - as Catalans attacked their line - Gildart read the play well and plucked a pass from the air to race 80 metres.

Burgess secured his seventh hat-trick for the Warriors before Hardaker proved he wasn't just capable of racking up the points with his trusty right boot - he scorched through for his first try for the club moments later.

Wigan: Hardaker; Manfredi, Sarginson, Gildart, Burgess; Williams, Sammut; Bullock, Leuluai, Navarrete, Isa, Paisley, Partington. Subs: Shorrocks, Flower, Smithies, Byrne.

Catalans: Tomkins; Yaha, Langi, Williame, Tierney; Gigot, Smith; Casty, Albert, Moa, Edwards, Whitley, Bird. Subs: Bousquet, Goudemand, Baitieri, Kasiano.