A Michael McIlorum double was enough to give Wigan victory over Catalans Dragons in a game ruined by the conditions at the DW Stadium.
Hooker McIlorum scored two tries in the space of two minutes in the first half to give the Warriors a two-try lead. Matty Smith converted one try and kicked a penalty in the second half.
Debutant Justin Horo managed to score for the visitors just two minutes into the second half but it didn’t prove to be a catalyst for a comeback. The Dragons suffered a big blow inside the first half when fellow debutant Paul Aiton, signed from Leeds, suffered an injury and had to leave the field.
Wigan captain Sean O’Loughlin started the game at prop forward with John Bateman at loose forward in order to accommodate new signing Willie Isa in the back row. Lewis Tierney also started at full-back in place of Sam Tomkins who is not yet ready to return.
Catalans had seven debutants including try scorer Horo and injured Aiton. Glenn Stewart, Dave Taylor, Krishnan Inu, Richie Myler and former warrior Pat Richards also debuted. Richards, incidentally, made his first appearance for Wigan against Catalans in Catalans first ever Super League fixture ten years ago.
Man of the match McIlorum said: “In the first twenty we completed well and forced them into some errors but after that we fell into the same patterns of errors.”
Even now in the ‘summer’ era of Rugby League we occasionally have the sloppy, error-ridden game to put up with and this was one of those occasions.
McIlorum joked after full time: “As you can see the Groundsmen have been doing a good job while we’ve been off.”
However Catalan came and played as if they were at home under the sun in the South of France. And this cost them after just fifteen minutes.
New signing Stewart jumped in at hooker before throwing a bad ball to Krishnan Inu. Inu managed to collect it but only until he hit the floor as the ball squirmed free McIlorum was quickest to react picking up the ball and sliding over from just three yards out.
McIlorum doubled his account just two minutes later. George Williams went inside and the move looked to have died however he managed to offload to McIlorum who, again, was quickest to react and slid over from yards out. Smith managed to convert this time after hitting the post with his first attempt.
The Dragons poor first half almost seemed a distant memory when they crossed just two minutes into the second forty. Horo managed to a slight touch on the ball to ground it before Tierney could stab the ball out of play. This came on the back of a neat dab into the in-goal area.
Catalan almost had a man sent to the bin when Gregory Mounis took out Tony Clubb with a high tackle as he came across field to prevent Clubb progressing any further than the forty metres he already had. Wigan were given another penalty moments later and Smith slotted the goal to give the Warriors a six-point lead.
This was the way it stayed even though Catalans managed to force five goal line drop-outs throughout the match and they came close to scoring towards the end when Myler almost knicked a Todd Carney high bomb from under full-back Tierney but it wasn’t to be for the French side.
Wigan: Tierney, Charnley, Gelling, Sarginson, Manfredi; Williams, Smith; Flower, McIlorum, O’Loughlin, Isa, Farrell, Bateman.
Subs: Clubb, Powell, Tautai, Sutton.
Catalans: Gigot, Yaha, Inu, Duport, Richards; Carney, Myler; Bousquet, Aiton, Anderson, Stewart, Horo, Baitieri.
Subs: Taylor, Mounis, Elima, Pelissier.
Referee: B. Thaler