Catalans become first ever non-British team to win Challenge Cup

Drew Darbyshire

Catalans won their first ever major trophy as they beat Warrington in a thrilling Challenge Cup final.

Catalans Dragons coach Steve McNamara made four changes to his side that lost to Wigan Warriors in Super League last week. Remi Casty, Mickael Simon, Ben Garcia and David Mead replaced Antoni Maria, Louis Anderson, Alrix Da Costa and Iain Thornley.

Jason Baitieri made his 200thappearance for the Dragons.

Steve Price also made four changes to his Warrington Wolves side that lost at Castleford Tigers last time out. Josh Charnley, Harvey Livett, Ben Westwood and Ben Murdoch-Masila came in for Mitch Brown, Bodene Thompson, Sitaleki Akauola and Ben Pomeroy.

Catalans could not have wished for a better start as they scored inside two minutes on the back of an error from Stefan Ratchford. Ex-Wolves man Benjamin Jullien got a fabulous offload away to Lewis Tierney who scored. Josh Drinkwater converted to give his side a 6-0 lead.

The French side extended their lead five minutes later. Warrington veteran Westwood gave a penalty away for interference at the play-the-ball and the Dragons opted to take the two. Drinkwater added the penalty goal and they were 8-0 ahead.

Tom Lineham thought he had scored for the Wolves midway through the first half but it was ruled out due to an earlier obstruction.

Warrington did come back into the game in the 28thminute though. France star Fouad Yaha failed to deal with a bomb from England international Ratchford and Ben Murdoch-Masila picked up the loose ball to score. Tyrone Roberts added the extras and they were only two points behind.

Catalans were in again though before the break. France back-rower Garcia caught the Warrington defence off guard as he scooted from close to barge over. Drinkwater’s boot made the score 14-6 at half-time.

McNamara’s men started the second half exactly how they started the first half. Fiji star Brayden Wiliame scored following a smart 40/20 from Tony Gigot. Drinkwater converted from the touchline, Catalans 20-6 Warrington.

The Wolves pulled a try back in the 55thminute. Gigot failed to deal with a crossfield kick from Kevin Brown which resulted in Ireland front-rower George King going over. Roberts added the conversion.

Roberts added a penalty goal for the Wolves in the latter stages of the game and they only trailed by six points.

It was a nail-biting finish at Wembley, but Catalans held on to seal a historic 20-14 win over Warrington in the 2018 Challenge Cup final.

The Dragons are the first ever non-British team to lift the famous Challenge Cup trophy.

Catalans: Gigot; Tierney, Mead, Wiliame, Yaha; Langi, Drinkwater; Simon, McIlorum, Moa, Jullien, Garcia, Casty. Subs: Bousquet, Baitieri, Edwards, Goudemand.

Warrington: Ratchford; Lineham, Goodwin, T King, Charnley; K Brown, Roberts; Hill, Clark, Cooper, Livett, Hughes, Westwood. Subs: Murdoch-Masila, G King, Patton, Philbin.

Lance Todd Winner: Tony Gigot became the first ever Frenchman to win the Lance Todd Trophy. He put in an inspiring performance in the full-back role.

Attendance: 50,672