Catalans 0-26 Warrington Wolves
The bleak weather was only surpassed by the performance dished up by Catalans’ as they were blown away by a Warrington side who gave the impression throughout that they could score at will. The hosts, in turn, were handed their first ‘nilling’ at home since playing in Super League and they can’t have any complaints.
The heavy rain both before and throughout ruined any real chance of the game being a spectacle but Warrington fared far better than their hosts. After four minutes, following a strong set which forced a Dragons drop out, the ball was worked out superbly to right winger Mitch Brown who crossed the line to put his team 4-0 up; a lead which was nearly extended after a break on the opposite edge as Tom Lineham chased down a Kevin Brown kick alongside Bryson Goodwin, the latter of which touched down inches over the dead ball line. Had he touched down legally, however, it would have been disallowed for offside against Daryl Clark who hadn’t given the Catalans defence ten metres following being in front of the kicker.
Ten minutes further on, however, and the visitors did extend their lead through the hooker. Wire were given a penalty ten metres out and, off the back of it, Clark – fresh from inclusion in the England Elite Performance Squad – crossed from close range under serious pressure from their French hosts with Goodwin converting; 10-0. Finding it all too easy despite the conditions, Warrington scored again with Kevin Brown having a hand in a second try. A centre field kick towards the right flank was met by his winger namesake who patted the ball down. The juggernaut that is Ben Murdoch-Masila picked up the loose ball and touched down. Unlike the previous kick, Goodwin was unsuccessful and the score was 14-0 – and Catalans still hadn’t looked remotely threatening.
They did at least show some fight – quite literally – as the half drew to a close and, after a mass scuffle following a strike by Fouad Yaha, both him and his opposite number Lineham were given ten minutes by Chris Kendall to leave the teams with twelve men apiece. However, neither team was able to take advantage of the extra space vacated by their departures and it was 14-0 at half time.
After 43, though, Wire had stretched further ahead as Murdoch-Masila finished off his second try of the night, albeit not as easily as his earlier effort. Whereas his first half score was essentially a free run from five yards, this one was a trademark barge over by the Tongan forward. 0-20.
The video referee then poured metaphorical cold water on the Catalans celebrations off the back of a Greg Bird try which was referred by Kendall, sending the score up as ‘no try’, citing possible obstruction. Unsurprisingly, the decision was agreed with as so many seem to be when sent up for such offence. However, unlike some which seem innocuous and tenuous obstruction shouts, this incident saw Murdoch-Masila barged out of the line by Mikael Simon which left a huge gap for Bird to cross through.
The final score of the game came with seconds on the clock. Indeed, the game had been over as a contest by half time, but Harvey Livett crossed with gusto after a Catalans handling error on the last gave the Wolves great position in their hosts twenty metres. Weeks on from a trip to Toulouse with Rochdale when his team were battered 54-6, tonight was a better one for Livett and Warrington as a whole.
Steve McNamara: “Hugely disappointing. I didn’t think we could play much worse than we did in the first half, then we did. On a night like this, it was always going to be important to get off to a good start and we let Warrington do what they wanted in the opening 25 minutes and that proved costly. Hugely, hugely disappointing.
Steve Price: “That was a big improvement. That’s what I expect from the Warrington Wolves, good discipline and high completion rate.