Super League: Bevan French stars as Wigan beat Catalans 46-12
|Betfred Super League|
|Wigan Warriors (14) 46|
|Tries: French 3, Hardaker, Leuluai, Smith, Sarginson, Gildart Goals: Hardaker 6, Smith|
|Catalans Dragons (0) 12|
|Tries: McIlorum, Tierney Goals: Tomkins|
Wigan Warriors moved to within a point of a second-place finish as Bevan French's classy hat-trick helped them cruise past Catalans Dragans for an 11th win in 12 Super League games.
French's tidy score out wide and a fine finish led to a 14-0 interval lead.
After French sealed his treble, Michael McIlorum's try gave Dragons hope, but Zak Hardaker, Thomas Leuluai, Harry Smith and Dan Sarginson all crossed.
Lewis Tierney replied but Oliver Gildart crossed for an eighth home try.
Warriors, who will now secure second spot and a home play-off qualifier if they avoid defeat in next Friday's final fixture at home to Castleford, were convincing winners against outclassed opponents.
Victories for both Warrington and Salford leave them both trailing Wigan by two points with one match remaining, while Catalans' already remote hopes of a top-five finish are now over.
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Wigan's second big home win over Dragons at the DW Stadium this season looked inevitable once the visitors had failed to breach a resolute backline in an encouraging start.
Warriors dominated from the moment that new Australian winger French touched down on the right after a brilliant pass by George Williams.
French was once again the finisher when the hosts went further ahead, showing his searing pace and some neat footwork to go over. A 14-0 interval lead was further stretched by another stylish score by French after the break.
Wigan old boy McIlorum threw a fine dummy when he stooped to give Dragons hope.
But Leuluai powered over soon after, a flowing team move allowed debutant Smith to score and Sarginson won a foot race for try number seven.
And, although another former Wigan man Tierney got the French side's second score, Gildart had the final say for the hosts.
Wigan coach Adrian Lam:
"It was a slow start. We tried a couple of different people in different positions and we rested some, so we did a bit of everything we wanted to do and it worked out well for us. We feel we didn't play at our best, but our defence from start to finish was brilliant.
"Bevan French has just been a sensation since getting here. He was unbelievable. He's one of those players that, if you underestimate him, he'll be too strong for you. He scored two tries out of nothing. He's one of those guys that looks like he's walking on water.
"In Super League 2020, he's going to be a sensation for us wherever he plays. He's got that speed to burn and he's quite strong. When he finds his feet at this club and realises it's his team too then he's going to move to another level."
"I'm really happy for Harry Smith. I've been a fan of his since last year when I watched him against Australia in the academy series. I've always wanted to give him a run out at some stage this year, but we were running out of time. he timing was perfect for him, we got a head start and it was a good opportunity to throw him on and rest George Williams."
Catalans Dragons coach Steve McNamara:
"I was really pleased with the start. We had 17 players who were fully committed to giving their all. It was plain to see.
"During that first spell, we were really good, but Wigan defended really well. And it took its toll in the end.
"We lost Remi Casty after just four minutes with a broken hand. Matt Whitley did his shoulder, then the first try is an eight-point try so we go from 0-0 to eight points down. The second try is offside from the kick that wasn't picked up, so we are suddenly 14-0 down after a positive start.
"In the second half, we just couldn't stay with Wigan. To be honest with you, we had some players out there who shouldn't have been there but we couldn't do anything about it."
Wigan: French, Hardaker, Sarginson, Gildart, Burgess, Williams, Leuluai, Clubb, Powell, Partington, Isa, Farrell, Smithies.
Interchanges: Navarrete, Greenwood, Byrne, Smith.
Catalans: Tomkins, Casty, Romano, Whitley, Wiliame, Tierney, Langi, Jullien, McIlorum, Maria, Bird, Tomkins.
Interchanges: Simon, Da Costa, Goudemand, Baitieri.
Referee: Robert Hicks (RFL).