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Rivals round threw together two rivals whose rivalry wasn’t based on geography as the Warrington Wolves took on the Catalans Dragons at the Halliwell-Jones Stadium in a top of the table battle which would see the winner draw level with St Helens in top spot.

The Dragons won the encounter between the two sides in the south of France on the opening weekend, but the Wolves are starting to find some form in recent weeks.

The Wolves were slight favourites with the bookies for the win and had been handicapped by four points on the coupon but there really was very little to choose between the two sides as the neutrals settled down to watch a close game between two competitive sides with Grand Final aspirations.

It took just four minutes for the Dragons to hit the front with the free scoring Tom Davies taking the pass on the right wing and coming inside his tackler to drop over the line. Jordan Abdull nailed the touchline conversion for a 6-0 lead, the home support quietened.

From the restart the Dragons were in again as Tom Johnstone raced to catch an Abdull kick to the corner as Matt Dufty got caught helplessly out of position. Abdull was on the mark again from wide, the Wolves stunned by an awful start to the game.

It went from bad to worse for the Wolves as Paul Vaughan was sin-binned on eleven for lifting and within seconds Ben Garcia went through a gap from first receiver as he split two defenders to ground. Abdull was again on target for 18-0 after twelve minutes.

A period of pressure from Warrington bore fruit when Zane Musgrove took an inside pass on twenty-six to run the angle and spin out of a tackle to ground for the Wolves first try of the game. Josh Thewlis added the conversion to reduce the arrears to twelve points.

With seven minutes of the half remaining Matty Ashton caught a kick to the corner and passed it back into the hands of Toby King who scampered over the line for the second Wolves try. Thewlis was on target again; the Wolves fightback had taken them within six points of their opponents.

After being an awful second best for the opening quarter of an hour, the Wolves had taken the game to Catalans in the remaining twenty-five and moved within a converted try of the home side.

Michael McIlorum was held up over the line on forty-four but on the next play Cesar Rougé collected a tap back from a grubber kick to power between three tacklers and ground over the line. Abdull was on target again for a 24-12 lead.

The Dragons had started the second half as they did the first when on forty-nine Arthur Romano supplied Johnstone who stumbled twice under tackles before lunging for the line and scoring. Abdull missed his first conversion attempt of the afternoon, the Dragons well clear and heading for the win.

Strength from James Harrison grabbed another lifeline for the Wolves as he stretched for the line to score under the attention of a couple of Dragons tacklers. Thewlis hit the mark with the conversion and again the arrears were down to ten points.

The lead was further reduced on fifty-seven thanks to a wonder try from George Williams who threw an outrageous dummy before stepping off his left foot and putting down the hammer to score by the left upright from twenty metres out. Thewlis hit the target again, the Wolves now just four points behind and the game was in the balance with twenty minutes remaining.

There was still just a four-point difference entering the last ten minutes, both sides desperate for the win and the points.

Massive pressure from Warrington through two repeat sets and a scrum to their advantage after a Dragons knock on saw desperate defence from the Dragons who managed to hold firm.

Ninety seconds from time an Abdull high kick was tapped back into the hands of chasing Abdull who carried it five metres over the line to touch down for the winning try of the game. Abdull missed the conversion, the Dragons taking the win by 32-24 to go level on points with St Helens at the top of the table.

The craziest and closest of matches with both sides having periods of excellence punctuated by periods of laxity in defence which made for an exciting encounter which went down to the final whistle and was only settled by the Abdull try in the closing moments. Catalans had periods of delightful free-flowing rugby but were prone to the odd ‘switch off’ which allowed Warrington back into the game on two occasions.

Warrington Wolves: Dufty, Thewlis (4G), King (T), Tai, Ashton, Williams (T), Hayes, Harrison (T), Walker, Vaughan (SB on 11), Holroyd, Fitzgibbon, Currie. Subs: Philbin, Musgrove (T), Crowther, Powell. 18th Man: Ratchford.

Catalans Dragons: Rougé (T), Davies (T), Romano, Ikuvalu, Johnstone (2T), Abdull (T, 4G), Tison, Navarrete, McIlorum, Bousquet, Sims, McMeeken, Garcia (T).  Subs: Séguier, Sironen, Satae, Dezaria. 18th Man: Laguerre.

Half-Time: 12-18.

Full-Time: 24-32.

Score Progression: 0-4, 0-6, 0-10, 0-12, (SB), 0-16, 0-18, 4-18, 6-18, 10-18, 12-18: HT: 12-22, 12-24, 12-28, 16-28, 18-28, 22-28, 24-28, 24-32 :FT.

Lead Exchanges: Catalans.

Referee: Jack Smith.

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Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Sat 30th Mar 2024 5:06 PM | Views : 4322 | Replies : 0 | BACK TO STORIES