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It was a round one baptism of fire for Sam Burgess’s Warrington Wolves as they hopped on the place to Perpignan for a Saturday evening encounter with the Catalans Dragons who went into battle for the first time in the post-Tomkins era.

There is no denying that Burgess was a giant of the game as a player, having battled for ten years at the top of the Australian game, but fans of Warrington and neutrals alike were wondering how his no-nonsense playing style would translate into his coaching ethos.

Pre-match the bookies were struggling to pick a side and gave the visitors just a four-point start on the coupon as it promised to be a great season opening battle in front of the partisan Dragons crowd in the South of France.

Catalans Jordan Abdull was held up over the line on four minutes as the home side looked to take an early lead.

The game blew up on eleven after a high tackle from Tariq Sims on youngster Aaron Lindop but it only resorted in a penalty for Warrington as referee Kendall kept his cards in his pocket.

Warrington forced back-to-back goal line dropouts with expansive play in the Dragons twenty as they went in search of the first points of the game and on sixteen minutes Lindop, on debut, took a pass from Toby King to score an acrobatic try, touching down one-handed in the right corner. In the absence of Stefan Ratchford, Josh Drinkwater had the kicking duties but put his kick wide of the target.

Three minutes before the interval there was a mix-up in the Wolves defence which opened the door for Jordan Abdull to go over by the left upright after taking a pass from Tom Johnstone. Arthur Mourgue added the conversion to put his side into the sheds with a two-point lead.

Twenty seconds after the restart, and on the first tackle, Michael McIlorum saw red for a high tackle on Joe Philbin, the Dragons down to twelve for the rest of the game.

Despite the numerical disadvantage the Dragons opened the second half scoring with a Mourgue penalty goal after Warrington were caught offside.

On forty-seven Lindop failed to retain the ball under the tackle and knocked on in the process of scoring in the corner and two minutes later the Wolves were made to pay as Arthur Mourgue ran the angle on a fast-flowing Dragon attack to score, it was looking more like Warrington were a man down as Mourgue kicked a third goal of the night.

A brilliant flowing move from the Wolves on sixty-two saw Matt Dufty involved twice, the second time he took the pass from Paul Vaughan to dive in under the sticks. Drinkwater added the conversion, and the margin was back to four points.

Joe Philbin held the man to slow the play the ball on sixty-five and Jordan Abdull attempted to kick the penalty goal but pushed the ball wide.

Jordan Crowther was sin-binned for a head contact on sixty-eight minutes, conceding a penalty thirty metres out from the sticks but Mourgue uncharacteristically skewed his kick wide of the right upright.

On seventy-two, another penalty for the Dragons, another kick from Mourgue, this time on target as the home side extended their lead to six points.

Despite having a man advantage for the majority of the second half, Warrington couldn’t make it count and allowed the twelve men to pile on the pressure and amass the necessary points to take a first win of the season. Both sides are learning new styles of play after several close season changes and are taking time to settle. Steve McNamara the happier of the two coaches, Burgess tasting defeat in his first outing as a head coach.

Catalans Dragons: Mourgue (T, 4G), Davies, Romano, Ikuvalu, Johnstone, Abdull (T), Fages, Navarrete, McIlorum (SO on 40), Bousquet, Sims, Séguier, McMeeken.  Subs: Nikorima, Sironen, Satae, Dezaria. 18th Man: Da Costa.

Warrington Wolves: Dufty (T), Lindop (T), King, Wrench, Williams, Drinkwater (G), Harrison, Walker, Musgrove, Currie, Fitzgibbon, Crowther (SB on 68). Subs: Vaughan, Philbin, Dudson, Powell. 18th Man: Holroyd.  

Half-Time: 6-4.

Full-Time: 16-10.

Score Progression: 0-4, 4-4, 6-4 : HT: (SO), 8-4, 12-4, 14-4, 14-8, 14-10, (SB), 16-10 :FT.

Lead Exchanges:  Warrington – Square – Catalans.

Referee: Chris Kendall.



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Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Sat 17th Feb 2024 7:23 PM | Views : 2625 | Replies : 0 | BACK TO STORIES