Wigan Warriors eased through to the last 4 of the Super League play-offs with a methodical 46-6 thrashing of the Catalans Dragons with George Carmont becoming the third Wigan player to score a hat-trick in play-off history.
The Dragons’ 2011 season was ended with a 44-0 thrashing at the DW Stadium in last season’s play-offs, but many expected tonight’s encounter to be much closer, especially with the absence of Wigan first-choice hooker Michael McIlorum through suspension.
Many expected coach Shaun Wane to slot in Thomas Leuluai at 9 but the Kiwi partnered Brett Finch in the halves once again with skipper Sean O’Loughlin starting at hooker. And the decision was to be vindicated from the off with the Wigan halfbacks’ combinations continually troubling the sluggish Catalans defence.
Wigan opened the scoring in the 4th minute when George Carmont was on the end of a superb long cut out pass from Finch after the Warriors halves combined for the centre to go over for the first of a hat-trick of tries on the night. Pat Richard’s conversion making it 6-0.
And the lead increased as the Warriors continued to take advantage of their dominant start, cutting through the right-hand Dragons defence with Finch finding Liam Farrell who put Carmont over for his second. The conversion off-target this time for the scores to stay at 10-0.
It was a strong defensive display too from the home side and the visitors, continually under pressure were unable to gain any fluency putting the ball down on regular occasion. And on their brief visits to the Wigan half the Dragons were unable to break down the Warriors as Dureau and Bosc were unable to gain a foothold.
Catalans did have a try disallowed by the video referee when Vincent Duport raced in from 50 metres but the replays showed that Dureau had knocked the ball forward into Duport’s grasp from a Wigan pass. And two minutes later Leuluai extended Wigan’s lead as he threw a dummy and fended off Gregory Mounis’ weak challenge to have a clear run over the line. Richards making it 16-0.
The Catalans briefly gave themselves a sniff in the 35th minute when Louis Anderson was put in space by Thomas Bosc and dummied his way over to get the ball over the line despite Josh Charnley’s eforts. The video referee confirmed there was no double-movement with momentum taking Anderson over despite his ball-carrying arm hitting the floor before the line. Dureau’s goal put the Dragons back within 10.
But the killer blow came two minutes before the break when back-to-back penalties took the pressure off Wigan. And from the position Finch and Leuluai were to be involved again with the latter’s short ball putting Darrell Goulding over for 22-6 at the break.
Hopes of a comeback in the second half were put out almost immediately when Liam Farrell extended the lead to 22 from Finch’s ball and Wigan began to cut loose against the wiltering Catalans. Sam Tomkins then had a try rubbed out due to an obstriction by O’Loughlin in the build-up.
However, Tomkins did get on the scoresheet when he finely took substitute Matty Smith’s kick between two defenders with Richards’ fifth conversion making it 34-6.
The well-beaten Catalans’ discipline continually to let them down and Carmont completed his hat-trick on the end of another cut-out ball from Finch as the Samoan centre shrugged off Damien Blanch to go over.
The icing was put on the cake with Charnley’s 90 metre solo effort after taking Dureau’s high kick before sprinting his way all the way to the Dragons’ line, stepping inside Menzies and Greenshields on the way to give himself a clear run to the sticks. Richards’ goal made it 46-6 to complete the win which not many had expected to come so easily before the game.
The win gives the League Leaders next week off and ensures they will have the Club Call next Sunday, when they will choose their semi-final opponents out of the two sides which proceed from Week Two. The Dragons will now have to use up their second chance with a knock-out home fixture in Week Two to try and get to to the last 4.
Wigan Warriors: Tomkins, Charnley, Goulding, Carmont, Richards, Finch, Leuluai, Lauaki, O’Loughlin, Mossop, Hansen, Hughes, Farrell.
Substitutes: Lima, Smith, Dudson, Flower
Catalans Dragons: Greenshields, Blanch, Sa, Duport, Millard, Bosc, Dureau, Paea, Henderson, Casty, Menzies, Anderson, Baitieri.
Substitutes: Mounis, Raguin, Pelissier, Fakir
LSMedia Man of the match: Brett Finch (Wigan)
Referee: Richard Silverwood