A day that many young French men will remember for the rest of their lives as a young Catalans side gave their best against a Wigan side with their eyes firmly on Old Trafford.
A different sort of French man in Bevan French had the final say as Wigan maintained their unbeaten record at home in 2022.
Smith gets the show on the road
A day of youngsters with so many young men in the Catalans side, it was a Wigan youngster in Harry Smith who opened the scoring thanks to a John Bateman offload. It came after Wigan had missed opportunities down either flank.
Inside ball unlocks stern Catalans defence
The next time the Catalans defence was breached wouldn’t be until the 30 minute mark as the young French side came up with some stern defence. However, a lovely inside ball to Ethan Havard saw Havard break through before teeing up Kaide Ellis to score.
Back-to-back tries for the Warriors
The last thing Catalans needed was a pair of back-to-back tries from the Warriors but the Cherry and Whites quickly followed up the try from Ellis with a score from a familiar source as Jai Field found space out wide teeing up Liam Marshall.
Marshall makes it two
Liam Marshall got his second try of the first half just before the halftime break after a lovely sweeping move down the left with Field being released by some lovely passes from centre field with Willie Isa and Jake Bibby backing up to send in Marshall.
Wigan error hands Catalans a try
Ironic using the word ‘hands’ as had Bevan French’s hands remained on the ball, the French side wouldn’t have poached the opening try of the second half. As it happened he didn’t and the most experienced player for the Dragons capitalised with Josh Drinkwater storming away to score.
Three tries by the hour mark takes Wigan to 40
After a slow start to the second half, Wigan were soon up to 40 points with a quarter of the game left. The first saw Bevan French make amends for his earlier error collecting Jai Field’s kick to score before Ethan Havard powered over for a deserved try. Then Jake Bibby poached one from close range.
French adds another
The last try saw Bevan French score yet another try of a glittering season which will see him claim the top try scorer award. This one came courtesy of Man of the Match Harry Smith whose pass was key in the build up.
We’ve seen many top teams blown away by this Wigan team in 2022, so Catalans should be credited for their effort in defence and their ability to shut down some really dangerous Wigan attacks especially in the first 30 minutes. Of course, that slipped away just before the break but that first 30 minutes ensured they earnt plenty of people’s respect.
Bright French future
I spoke in great length a week ago about the blow that was Toulouse’s relegation given the potential of rugby league in France and tonight emphasised this with a demonstration of how France are routinely producing players of serious quality. Many of the young French men produced moments of skill, tenacity and class that’s Super League level. No doubt many of them will become established stars of Super League which will only strengthen French rugby league ahead of the World Cup in France in 2025.
Not the preparation Wigan would have wanted
Matt Peet was no doubt hoping that they’d be taking on a full strength Catalans side in the perfect preparation for play-off rugby against one of last year’s Grand Finalists and instead they came up against a youthful Dragons side. It wasn’t quite the preparation Matt Peet would’ve imagined and produced a little bit of an uneven performance.
Not the look Super League needs prior to the play-offs
At this time of the season we expect the games to be getting better as the intensity increases and the Super League trophy comes into focus. But that’s not exactly happened with three games crammed into a week causing teams to name virtually reserve sides frequently. For any causal viewers watching tonight’s game, it would have been hard to tempt them to come back to watch play-off rugby. It shows that the right decision has been made in ending the double game weeks.
Injury worries for Wigan
Tonight saw the news break that Liam Farrell is “touch and go” for the rest of the campaign due to a low grade ACL injury whilst Cade Cust also went off with an elbow injury. Two key players for the Warriors, Matt Peet will want them to be fit for the semi-finals for sure. Jai Field went off but was simply being rested whilst Tommy Leuluai returned to the fold tonight with Sam Powell set to return.
23 Jai Field – 7
1 Bevan French – 8
2 Jake Bibby – 7
21 Kai Pearce-Paul – 7
5 Liam Marshall – 8
6 Cade Cust – 7
16 Harry Smith – 9
8 Brad Singleton – 7
28 Brad O’Neill – 9
15 Kaide Ellis – 8
11 Willie Isa – 7
13 John Bateman – 8
14 Morgan Smithies – 7
7 Thomas Leuluai – 7
10 Patrick Mago – 7
19 Ethan Havard – 9
36 Mike Cooper – 7
26 Romain Franco – 7
44 Mike Parenti – 7
19 Arthur Romano – 6
41 Maxime Jobe – 6
43 Tanguy Zenon – 7
25 Cesar Rouge – 6
7 Josh Drinkwater – 7
35 Bastien Scimone – 6
40 Ugo Tison – 7
33 Tiaki Chan – 6
21 Corentin Le Cam –6
38 Leo Laurent – 6
24 Mathieu Cozza – 6
36 Hugo Salabio – 6
37 Lucas Ribas – 6
39 Leo Llong – 6
46 Leon Castano – 6