Well we finally made a summer trip to Perpignan
and no one can win me over in the argument about whether we should
have a French side in Super League.
Ok I can understand the argument that they offer
little in terms of away support at venues here but when you go out
to France you see the passion and its fantastic. No venue in this
country makes the effort atmosphere wise like they do. To be fair
they only shout "Catalan....Catalan....Catalan" but they rarely
Obviously helps that the weather was nice but that
wasn't the case as we arrived in Barcelona Girona Airport Friday
afternoon. There were black clouds as we left and on the coach
trip to Perpignan we went straight into a big storm which made
last years monsoon look like light drizzle! Thankfully it didn't
hit Perpignan. The match day weather was warm and sunny but I
didn't think it was that uncomfortable.
The town was awash with Wiganers down by the canal
but we found a nice quiet square which offered a beer vending type
thing called a "giraffe". 2 and half litres of beer it held and
about 10 of them between us kept us quiet for the afternoon.
Whilst sat there chairman Ian Lenegan walked past we stopped him
to say hello and rather than walk away he just sat himself down
without hesitation. His wife was with him and when told about
cherry&white she asked me "are you the one that whinges alot?".
She must have me confused with someone else lol.
She was telling us though how it was an off chance
conversation at a varsity match they went to that Ian got involved
with Harlequins and that it wouldn't be at Wigan today but for
that. She said they'd always mingled with the fans and I think
most Wigan fans appreciate it. In recent years the fans have been
left in the cold I feel with a lack of honesty but now if you walk
up to Ian and ask him a question he'll give you a decent answer.
Having made our way to the bar near the ground a few of us broke
out into a rendition of Delilah by Tom Jones. No idea why but most
of us had been on the ale since 10am and it was an 8pm kick off so
that might be an answer.
On to the game and what was that kit clash about? I believe its
the RFL who decide the kits you have to wear and that was
ridiculous. Not the first time it's happened either - Hull and
Bradford both played in white at the KC Stadium earlier this year.
If Wigan only packed the home kit let the Catalans play in there
excellent all red and yellow shirt they used at the JJB!
Wigan started the game well and scored the first try in the 9th
minute when Pat Richards broke down the left and just about slid
over the line. Know to save me having to write "he converted"
again and again its easier for me just to say that every kick from
every angle was expertly kicked by both Paaat and Thomas Bosc in
Unfortunately though we managed to cock up the restart. It went
into touch and within a minute Catalans made it 6-6 with Adam Mogg
sending John Wilson over. Annoying to say the least. A penalty
goal on 16 minutes put the French ahead for the first time 8-6 as
Wigan got caught offside.
Defence was at a premium and Wigan retook the lead on 20
minutes. Joel Tomkins it was who touched down a great pass from
Trent Barrett which made it 12-8 to Wigan.
But the Dragons hit straight back and should have scored but
Thomas Bosc knocked on trying to ground the ball. Didn't matter
because Clint Greenshields did score on 28 minutes to make it
Wigan though had the last laugh of the half when Barrett put a
bomb in the air and Pat batted it back into the arms of George
Carmont who touched down for his eight try of an impressive
campaign. So Wigan went into half time with a 18-14 lead which was
very pleasing at the time.
The second half though continued in the same vain with both
sides exchanging tries.
It was Catalans first with a try from Oliver Elima on 44
minutes then a penalty goal from Pat levelled the scores up a
Wigan though were beginning to wilt in the humidity and the
Catalans began to take control. First Adam Mogg went over then a
break down the middle from Casey McGuire sent Greenshields over
for his second try. Crucially this was the first time in the match
either side had scored twice in a row without reply.
Wigan soon hit back though on 63 minutes when a good run from
the marauding Paleaaesina got Andy Coley in position to barge over
from close range. He did well also to round off nearer to the
posts which help Wigan back to within a converted try at 32-26. I
honestly felt Wigan would come back to win at this point but then
came a killer blow.
Feka, who to be fair continued his outstanding recent form,
threw an offload straight into the hands of Sebastien Raguin who
raced away to make it 38-26 with 15 minutes left and that was game
Three minutes later Stuart Fielden threw another intercept -
this time to Clint Greenshields who completed his hatrick. I've
more sympathy with Fielden though because we had to start
offloading to give ourselves a chance but that pass well and truly
finished us off at 42-26.
But to be fair Wigan never gave up. A barge over from Feka and
a late debut score for Cameron Phelps took the flattery out of the
42-26 lead the Catalans have built with the two intercepts and
perhaps made the final score a fair reflection on the match. In
between the two late tries incidentally Adam Mogg had slotted a
drop goal to make the final score Catalans 45 Wigan 38.
All in all we did concede some soft tries and to score 38 and
lose should never happen but I thought we played great. It was a
big effort in that difficult French back yard and I also thought
referee Ian Smith had a great game.