Challenge Cup: Catalans Dragons 20 Warrington Wolves 14
PUBLISHED: 19:21 25 August 2018 | UPDATED: 19:21 25 August 2018
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Rugby League history was made at Wembley on Saturday when the Catalans Dragons, from Perpignan in the south of France, became the first non-English team ever to win the Challenge Cup.
And they achieved it with a narrow but deserved victory over the Warrington Wolves who lost a third final in six years.
It took just two minutes for the Dragons to take the lead.
A high kick from Josh Drinkwater was spilled by Stefan Ratchford and from the repeat set of tackles, Lewis Tierney – whose father Jason Robinson not only won the Challenge Cup and pretty much everything else with Wigan RL, but also the Rugby Union World Cup with England – touched down in the corner.
Drinkwater added a superb conversion, and a few minutes later kicked a penalty, leaving Warrington to chase the game.
They thought they had got back into the game when Tom Lineham scored in the corner, but the referee checked with the video official and he saw a collision between Ratchford and an oncoming Catalans defender as obstruction.
It was a harsh call and not the only one that went against the Wolves.
Just before the half-hour mark, they did score a try as Fuad Yaha tried to catch a bomb from Tyrone Roberts but spilled it and fastest to react was Ben Murdoch-Masila who touched down without a hand being laid on him.
Five minutes later, following another Warrington error with a kick, Benjamin Garcia dived for the line.
The referee was happy the ball had touched the line but wanted video confirmation. Having said he was happy with the score the video referee had to prove the try was not good and he probably had insufficient evidence to do so.
Three minutes into the second half, Tony Gigot kicked a 40–20, giving Catalans possession inside Warrington’s red zone. It did not take long for the Dragons to turn territory into points as Brayden Wiliame went over.
With Drinkwater adding the two points, Warrington were left with a mountain to climb.
Six points of the deficit was quickly clawed back as Toby King profited from more errors from a high kick, but the margin was still eights, meaning two scores.
With 10 minutes to go, the Wolves were awarded a penalty for a shoulder charge on the kicker and took the two points on offer to Roberts.
Now was the time for the Catalans defence to stand up and they were magnificent. Warrington had five sets of six inside the Frenchmen’s 10-metre area, but they could not find a way through.
A combination of desperation, great defence and poor attacking choices ensured that every Warrington raid was repelled and the smell of glory dragged the Dragons over the line.
The winner of the Lance Todd Trophy – man of the match – was Gigot, a man sacked by the one-win London Broncos and unwanted by London Skolars in 2014, and who later had a drugs ban overturned.
Catalans: Gigot, Tierney, Mead, Wiliame, Yaha Langi, Drinkwater, Simon, McIlorum, Moa, Jullien, Garcia, Casty. Replacements: Bousquet, Baitier, Edwards, Goudemand.
Warrington: Ratchford, Lineham, Goodwin, T. King, Charnley, Brown, Roberts, Hill, Clark, Cooper, Livett, Hughes, Westwood. Replacements: Murdoch-Masila, G. King, Patton, Philbin.
Referee: Rob Hicks (Yorkshire).