It was a important sunny Saturday afternoon in Perpignan for both the Catalans Dragons and Warrington Wolves with the former knowing that a win would lift them into second spot in the table, and the latter hoping for a win by six or more points which would lift them above Hull KR and into the top half of the league.
The bookies had the home side as firm favourites and were giving the Wolves a ten-point start on the handicap coupon prior to the game, and with full back talisman, Sam Tomkins, back in the side, coupled with rushed travel arrangements for the Wolves, and the news that Charnley and King were missing, no one could blame the weighted odds.
After good early Warrington pressure, including a breakaway from Ashton which should haven ended in point, it was the Dragons who opened the scoring through a twenty metre Sam Tomkins penalty goal on nine minutes.
It took two minutes for the Wolves to strike back as Connor Wrench took a great catch-pass from Peter Mata´utia to create him the space to score in the right corner. Mata´utia converted in off the far upright for a 6-2 lead.
Mathieu Laguerre knocked-on as he went in to score on twenty minutes as the home side spurned a great chance but two minutes later a sensational offload from Tyrone May went to Tom Davies to score while airborne in the right corner. Tomkins was unable to convert from wide, the sides locked together at 6-6.
It had been a breathless first half, with some uncharacteristic errors from both sides thwarting attacking moves and ensuring that the scoreboard operators were underutilised in the first forty.
The Dragons were back in front on forty-four after an offence in the tackle enabled Tomkins to kick another penalty goal, this one from thirty metres for an 8-6 lead and seven minutes later Mata´utia returned the favour as he kicked a penalty to again square things up.
On fifty-five Mitchell Pearce pushed his way over the line and managed to force the ball onto the ground under the tackle, the Dragons back in front, and when Tomkins added the conversion, it was 14-8 but the Wolves had plenty of time to come back.
Warrington interfered with the marker on sixty-four to gift Tomkins a penalty goal and an eight-point lead despite the protestations of Stefan Ratchford.
The game was over on sixty-eight after great strength from Jullien Bousquet as he powered over the line, Oliver Holmes handing round his waist as the Frenchman stretched to score. Tomkins kicked the goal for 22-8, the Dragons up into second spot in Super League.
Gil Dudson as in support of a Sam Casiano break and powered to the line to stretch and score one-handed under the sticks. The video referee was consulted but gave the try. Tomkins kicked his fifth goal of the night.
The Dragons were cutting loose on seventy-seven with Fouad Yaha on hand to finish of a great move that had started with a Casiano break down the middle. With Warrington´s players minds already on the plane home, Arthur Mourgue added the conversion for 34-8.
Within seconds Yaha tore through the Wolves defence again off a Pearce kick through before finding Mourgue in support to cross for his first try of the game, adding the conversion on the final hooter for a final score of 40-8.
After an even first hald Steve McNamara´s side kicked in and ran away with the game in the second half in draining conditions as they played through a myriad of first errors to hold onto the ball and take their opportunities as they arose in the second half, some Warrington would argue thanks to the whistle of referee Liam Moore. The Dragons go above Wigan into second and maintain the pressure on the Saints, but once again, Daryl Powell will be feeling his supporters’ backlash as they continue a very disappointing season under their new coach.
Catalans Dragons: Tomkins (5G), Yaha (T), Laguerre, May, Davies (T), Mourgue (T, 2G), Pearce (T), Napa, McIlorum, Bousquet, Whitley, Chan, Garcia. Subs: Dudson, Goudemand, Dezaria, Kasiano.
Warrington Wolves: Thewlis, Wrench (T), Mata´utia (G), Currie, Ashton, Ratchford, Williams, Mulhern, Clark D, Cooper, Longstaff, Holmes, Magoulias. Subs: Philbin, Clark J, Bullock, Walker.
Score Progression: 2-0, 2-4, 2-6, 6-6: HT : 8-6, 8-8, 12-8, 14-8, 16-8, 20-8, 22-8, 26-8, 28-8, 32-8, 34-8, 38-8, 40-8 : FT.
Referee: Liam Moore.