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Friday 28th March 2014, 20:00 - Round:7
|Matty Bowen 2, Josh Charnley, Liam Farrell,||T||Morgan Escare 2, Ben Pomeroy,|
Matty Smith 3,
Thomas Bosc 2,
Attendance: 11,216 Official: T Roby Venue: DW Stadium
Wigan Warriors needed a late try from Matty Bowen to see off a determined Catalan Dragons side 22-16 and make it three First Utility Super League wins on the bounce.
Catalan began with a two-try burst in the opening 10 minutes that left the Super League champions stunned and facing an uphill battle.
The opening try was a thing of beauty as the Dragons went the full length of the field with an attack started and finished off by the impressive Morgan Escare, before Ben Pomeroy's try in the corner minutes later saw them deservedly lead 10-0.
Wigan looked tired and sluggish in both attack and defence and it took until the 29th minute for them to register any points as Australian full-back Bowen dummied his way over to put the Warriors within six points at the break.
Escare and Josh Charnley traded tries early in the second half and Liam Farrell levelled matters with 13 minutes left before Bowen left the best until last to seal a dramatic victory for the champions.
Skipper Sean O'Loughlin was back after a three-game injury absence for the Warriors, meaning Ben Flower moved up to the front row with Dominic Crosby dropping to the bench.
Former Wigan prop Jeff Lima was denied a chance to face his old team-mates as he was once again missing through suspension, while Daryl Millard returned in the centres with Zeb Taia slotting in the second row to replace the injured Elliott Whitehead.
Catalan started the game in thrilling fashion and were soon over with a contender for try of the season from Escare.
Wigan's Matty Smith put up a towering bomb which was misjudged by Mathias Pala, allowing Escare to sweep up - and what happened next was majestic as Escare, aided by Leon Pryce and Louis Anderson, cut through the right side of Wigan's defence before crossing the try line. Thomas Bosc converted as the visitors led 6-0.
Pomeroy used all his strength to finish off a flowing passing move, again with Pryce involved, for the second try. Bosc was off target with his kick at goal.
Wigan improved slightly as they trapped Pryce behind his own line following Blake Green's cute grubber kick and this time they made the possession count as they built on pressure caused by a half break from George Williams.
The ball was eventually swung right and Bowen threw a couple of dummies before forcing his way over. Smith missed the conversion.
The first score of the second half was going to be crucial and it looked like Wigan were trying too hard as Farrell was guilty of coughing up possession twice early in the tackle count and the Frenchmen took advantage.
A towering bomb from Pryce was spilled on contact in the tackle by Bowen and that allowed Escare to scoop up the loose ball and go over under the posts. Bosc converted for a 16-4 lead.
When Wigan could keep hold of the ball they were looking dangerous and they proved that as Smith and O'Loughlin combined to send Charnley in at the corner to give the champions a lifeline. Smith's conversion attempt was good as they again trailed by six.
Wigan were getting the rub of the green on the penalty count and thought they had cut the deficit to two points when Joe Burgess appeared to go over in the corner following a slick passing move, but the score was disallowed.
The hosts again had a try ruled out as Bowen's final ball to Charnley went forward. Yet Wigan's domination finally paid off as Farrell collected a short offload from Smith to go over, and the scrum-half then converted to level it up at 16-16.
The Warriors had an opportunity to go in front for the first time in the 73rd minute but Smith's penalty attempted sailed wide and he then had two drop-goal attempts charged down.
Michael Oldfield looked like he had secured a vital point for the Dragons as he stopped a rampaging Burgess and forced him into touch.
But Wigan and Bowen in particular had one more ace to play.
Bowen safely secured a little chip over from Escare before racing 65 metres through some tired defence to seal the win. Smith's conversion capped the dramatic finish.
TA: Try assists
MT: Marker tackles
MI: Missed tackles
TB: Tackle busts
AT: Attacking kicks
AG: Av gain
CB: Clean break
DR: Run from dummy half
FT: Forty twenty
MG: Missed goals