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GUARDIAN VERDICT: Catalan Dragons 44 Warrington Wolves 16
OVERCOMING tiring travel and warmer weather on a short turnaround was always asking a lot of Wolves in France on Easter Monday but the margin of victory would have surprised some.
Wolves, yet to find anything close to their 2011 try-scoring form, were ‘lacklustre’ at best although the runaway points total was slanted by a late collapse in which three tries in six minutes allowed Catalan Dragons to consign Tony Smith to the second highest defeat of his three years in charge.
The contributing factors were many and varied, including losing scrum half Richie Myler to an abductor strain after 13 minutes – probably a key man too far while also being without Ryan Atkins, Michael Monaghan, Stefan Ratchford, Ben Harrison and David Solomona.
But, even with ill-discipline costing them dearly in the penalty count and adopting a less expansive game plan, they still created enough chances to have won.
Wolves dominated the opening 33 minutes of the second half when Hodgson had the ball ripped out in a two-man tackle as he tried to ground the ball, while Hodgson, Micky Higham and Trent Waterhouse were all held up over the try line by a determined Catalan defence appreciated by a record Stade Gilbert Brutus crowd.
There were other moments of poor execution as Wolves did all the pressing and Les Catalans desperately hung on to a 26-12 lead that was looking vulnerable.
In the end it came down to two sucker punches against the run of play, with Daryl Millard’s 70-metre effort against a weary defence in the 73rd minute being the spark for the disappointing late riot that left Smith’s camp bruised and ‘hurting’.
Wolves’ second highest loss under Tony Smith and their widest margin of defeat since 60-8 thumping at Harlequins in 2009.
Catalan Dragons have now won nine of the 15 Super League meetings between the two sides.
First game Ryan Atkins has missed this season.
Equals the defeat to St Helens in March for the least number of points Wolves have scored in a match this season.
Record ground attendance for Stade Gilbert Brutus.
Louis Anderson is only the second player to have appeared for both Warrington and Catalan, following in the steps of Jerome Guisset.
Round 11: April 9, 2012 Catalan Dragons...44 Warrington Wolves...16
Clint Greenshields; Thomas Bosc, Setaimata Sa, Daryl Millard, Vincent Duport; Leon Pryce, Scott Dureau; Lopini Paea, Ian Henderson, Remi Casty, Steve Menzies, Louis Anderson, Jason Baitieri. Subs: David Ferriol, Gregory Mounis, Eloi Pelissier, Jamal Fakir.
Brett Hodgson; Joel Monaghan, Chris Bridge, Matty Blythe, Chris Riley; Lee Briers, Richie Myler; Adrian Morley, Micky Higham, Chris Hill, Ben Westwood, Trent Waterhouse, Simon Grix. Subs: Garreth Carvell, Paul Wood, Mike Cooper, Brad Dwyer.
Paea try, 4mins, Dureau goal, 6-0; Bosc try, 6mins, 10-0; Higham try, 14mins, Hodgson goal, 10-6; Menzies try, 27mins, Dureau goal, 16-6; Riley try, 32mins, Hodgson goal, 16-12; Anderson try, 39mins, Bosc goal, 22-12; Sa try, 52mins, 26-12; Millard try, 73mins, Dureau goal, 32-12; Sa try, 76mins, Dureau goal, 38-12; Menzies try, 78mins,Dureau goal, 44-12; Dwyer try, 80+mins, 44-16.
Dragons 13 Wolves 7