Catalans Dragons beaten by Warrington after landing two hours before kick-off

Warrington maintained the only 100 per cent record since the resumption of the season with a 30-16 win over a game Catalans Dragons to go top of the Betfred Super League.

The French team had endured something of a tortuous journey to England, having been forced to drive to Toulouse to catch their charter flight after the plane was prevented by high winds from landing in Perpignan.

They were then held up by a 120mph head wind and arrived at Liverpool John Lennon Airport less than two hours before kick-off at the Halliwell Jones Stadium – but they looked anything but a weary team as they pushed their in-form opponents all the way.

They led 12-6 moments before half-time thanks to tries from Tom Davies and Samisoni Langi, but Matty Ashton added to Anthony Gelling’s early score to equalise at the break and Matt Davis scored early in the second half.

Blake Austin and Danny Walker rounded off Warrington’s win, with Fouad Yaha’s try for Catalans keeping it interesting until the closing stages.

Dragons boss Steve McNamara was without front-rowers Julian Bousquet and Sam Kasiano for the first time in the league in 2020 and, following the later withdrawal of Benjamin Jullien for personal reasons, was forced to include reserve forwards Paul Seguier, Lambert Belmas and Mickael Goudemand on an inexperienced bench.

But with the wily Sam Tomkins pulling the strings from full-back, the Catalans were full of energy and enterprise and were well in the game at half-time.

Warrington were without the versatile Stefan Ratchford but were boosted by the return of Gareth Widdop from a three-match absence and his half-back partnership with Austin was key.

It was Austin’s break that led to the opening try, winger Jake Mamo supporting him to get centre Gelling over after seven minutes.

The Catalans were slow in getting into the game but Tomkins showed his threat on 24 minutes when his cut-out pass got his former Wigan team-mate Davies over for a try and James Maloney’s touchline goal levelled the scores.

Nine minutes later the England full-back was at it again, giving centre Langi a run to the line and Maloney’s second goal put the visitors 12-6 in front.

Catalans Dragons’ Samisoni Langi scores a try
Catalans Dragons’ Samisoni Langi scores a try

Warrington were suddenly looking vulnerable but they crucially scored either side of half-time to gain the ascendancy.

Widdop kicked into space for pacy full-back Ashton to touch down two minutes before the break and substitute forward Davis forced his way over five minutes into the second half for his side’s third try.

The Wolves did well to contain a break by the dangerous Israel Folau and when Austin went over for their fourth try on 55 minutes, the game looked to be over.

How’s that for a #FridayFeeling?! 😀

— Warrington Wolves (@WarringtonRLFC) September 25, 2020

But the Catalans scored a well-worked try through winger Yaha on 58 minutes and Tomkins almost added another before being held up on his back over the line.

It was only while the Dragons were reduced to 12 men through the sin-binning of Maloney for an off-the-ball tackle on hooker Danny Walker that Warrington were able to make sure of their ninth successive win.

Second-rower Jack Hughes produced a superb offload from a three-man tackle to the supporting Walker, who scored the clinching try with Widdop kicking his fifth goal.