Just one of Steve McNamara´s seventeen-man side which travelled to Wigan to take on the Warriors had a squad number under seventeen and ten players were given their debut, an indication that the Dragons were happy with their fourth-place finish in Super League 2022 and that their priority was to give their first team squad a week off to prepare for the play offs.
Wigan, already guaranteed a weekend off next week, named a strong side who were expected to record a massive victory, the bookies giving the visitors a massive forty-six point start on the handicap coupon.
The game was a dead rubber, treated as such by the French side, and all credit to those who could be bothered to both attend and tune in to watch on SKY.
The young Dragons withstood the Wigan onslaught for the opening six minutes before they finally found their way over for the opening try of the game after the visitors were caught offside before John Bateman passed to Harry Smith who went over on his knees and grounded. Smith added the goal to his own try for a 6-0 lead.
Against the odds the Dragons defence repelled the Warriors attack, and at times they went on forays into the Warriors half, before Kaide Ellis finally found a gap in the Dragons defence to go twenty metres to dive in. Smith added the extras for a 12-0 lead with just over half an hour on the clock.
On thirty-four Liam Marshall was on hand down the left wing to take the pass from Jai Field to dive over in the corner. Smith drifted his conversion between the uprights from the touchline for 18-0.
Just before the interval Marshall got his second, a simple catch and ground after all the hard work was done by his centres, Bibby drawing the tacklers to put his winger free. Smith was again impeccable with his boot, the Warriors with a 24-0 half time lead.
It was the Dragons who got over the whitewash first in the second half, Josh Drinkwater running fifty metres to score in the left corner after Bevan French dropped the ball in the tackle. Cesar Rouge was unable to add the touchline conversion, the visitors off the mark.
Bevan French got his first try of the night on fifty-one as he won the race to ground the ball after a neat Field grubber kick to the corner. Smith again added a touchline conversion for a 30-4 score line.
The sixth Wigan try came from Ethan Havard with a scoot from dummy half to dot down under the sticks. Smith added the conversion, six from six for the Wigan kicker.
Just after the hour mark it was the turn of Jake Bibby to spin his way over the line as he went from dummy half to ground. The infallible boot of Smith was again on target for 42-4.
French got his second on sixty-nine, sliding over in the corner off a Smith cut-out pass. Smith drilled an eighth conversion between the uprights.
Although it was a comfortable win for the Warriors, the sceptics who were consulting the record books before kick-off in relation to Dragons record defeats were misguided as the youthful French side put up a decent defensive effort to prevent the expected cascade of tries, and kept within the bookies handicap. The Warriors recorded a confident win and will go into a rest week with a warm feeling, McNamara will put this game to the back of his mind as he looks forward to next weeks play off against either Salford, Leeds or Castleford in the Stade Gilbert Brutus.
Wigan Warriors: Field, French (2T), Bibby (T), Pearce-Paul, Marshall (2T), Cust, Smith (T, 8G), Singleton, O´Neill, Ellis (T), Isa, Bateman, Smithies. Subs: Leuluai, Mago, Harvard (T), Cooper.
Catalans Dragons: Franco, Parenti, Romano, Jobe, Zenon, Rouge, Drinkwater (T), Scimone, Tison, Chan, Le Cam, Laurent, Cozza. Subs: Salabio, Ribas, Llong, Castano.
Score Progression: 4-0, 6-0, 10-0, 12-0, 16-0, 18-0, 22-0, 24-0 : HT : 24-4, 28-4, 30-4, 34-4, 36-4, 40-4, 42-4, 46-4, 48-4 : FT.
Lead Exchanges: Wigan.
Referee: James Child.