Super League: Catalans Dragons beat Wigan Warriors 33-16 in Barcelona
|Betfred Super League|
|Catalans Dragons (8) 33|
|Tries: Mead 2, McIlorum, Langi, Kasiano Goals: Gigot 6 Drop goal: Gigot|
|Wigan (6) 16|
|Tries: Marshall, Gildart, Hardaker Goals: Hardaker 2|
Catalans Dragons celebrated their Nou Camp adventure with a thumping five-try Super League win against Wigan.
There were only two points in it at half-time, as winger Liam Marshall's late try in reply to Wigan old boy Michael McIlorum's score made it 8-6.
However, Catalans then took control, David Mead claiming two tries, while Samisoni Langi and Sam Kasiano also scored to help Dragons go third.
Oliver Gildart and Zak Hardaker's late tries were mere consolation for Wigan.
A gate of 31,555 - at the 99,354 capacity home of football giants Barcelona - broke the Super League record for the biggest attendance outside a Grand Final.
The home fans celebrated a party in the Catalonian heartland as the Challenge Cup holders enjoyed their first win over reigning Super League champions Wigan in 10 attempts stretching back to May 2015.
While Catalans lost veteran Greg Bird to a bicep injury in the opening quarter, for Wigan head coach Adrian Lam there was concern at the loss of Joe Greenwood with what looked a potentially serious leg injury and the double head clash of Sam Powell and Dan Sarginson.
There was also concern at the number of costly errors, which Mead and Langi both swooped on to score, while they also allowed McIlorum to return from a nine-week pectoral muscle injury lay-off to score against his old club.
Catalan pride shines on grand stage
Barcelona were impressed by Catalans' fanbase and commitment when they won the Challenge Cup at Wembley last August.
So much so that they extended their invitation for the Dragons to play at the Nou Camp - and the club made the most of their chance to impress.
The game lacked quality at times, but there was plenty of endeavour, physicality and passion on show.
Boisterous, colourfully-clad supporters roared, cajoled and jeered in tandem with the action, while banners of independence for the Catalonian region were unfurled before kick-off.
Wigan fans added to the atmosphere, staying on even when their side were well beaten.
But, having comfortably beaten Catalans 42-0 at the DW Stadium on 31 March, there would have been concern at the manner of their defeat after a disappointing second-half performance.
The previous Super League record was set by Wigan in their derby game with St Helens at the DW Stadium in 2005.
Catalans coach Steve McNamara:
"I'm ecstatic because this was a big occasion for our club and for rugby league. To come here to a colosseum and play like that.
"It was a very gladiatorial game. We lost Greg Bird early on but we defended so well and it was a superb advert for the game.
"I couldn't get the players off the field at the end. This place is spiritual to the people of Catalan - it is more than just a stadium.
"I have quickly learned that they are hard-working, fierce and loyal people. Our team has to represent the people who support us in the Catalan region."
Wigan coach Adrian Lam:
"Had Liam Marshall's try been awarded early in the second half, it might have been different, but we didn't react. We just looked flat and tired and I'm very disappointed.
"That's probably the worst we've played all year. I don't think the occasion got to the players.
"I am disappointed but this is the highlight of any player's career. It's great exposure and this was the biggest crowd ever in a Super League match.
(on Joe Greenwood's injury) "I think it was a hyper-extension to the knee and hopefully nothing too serious."
Catalans: Gigot; Yaha, Mead, Wiliame, Tierney; Langi, Bird; Bousquet, McIlorum, Moa, Edwards, Whitley, Casty.
Interchanges: Garcia, Simon, Baitieri, Kasiano.
Wigan: Hardaker; Marshall, Sarginson, Gildart, Burgess; Williams, Leuluai; Flower, Powell, Navarrete, Isa, Greenwood, Clubb.
Interchanges: O'Loughlin, Hankinson, Tautai, Bullock.
Referee: Ben Thaler.