Warrington Wolves earn hard-fought Challenge Cup win over Catalans

Challenge Cup trophy SWpix

Photo: Olly Hassell/SWpix

Warrington Wolves’ Wembley dreams got off to a flying start in France with a hard-fought 16-14 win over Catalans Dragons.

Two tries for winger Matty Ashton were the difference in this see-saw match which went right to the wire.

The Wolves were under intense pressure from the home team in the early stages but were first to score in the 16th minute when Ashton latched onto a series of passes from George Williams and Stefan Ratchford out to the left wing to cross at the corner flag, Ratchford landing the difficult conversion.

Daryl Clark almost added a second try moments later but he lost control of the ball while attempting to ground over the line after a 10-metre dash through the Dragons’ defence.

But there was no doubt about the next score when Williams brushed off an attempted tackle by Mitchell Pearce and released full-back Matt Dufty who finished on 25 minutes, with Ratchford’s conversion putting his side 12-0 up.

Former Catalans star Sam Kasiano was then released from the bench by coach Daryl Powell and he made an immediate impact with some typically blockbusting bursts in the middle of the pitch.

But Catalans struck back in the 32nd minute when winger Arthur Romano finished off a Sam Tomkins and Pearce move with a spectacular dive to score at the right corner flag, Arthur Mourgue on target from the touchline with the conversion.

Another former home favourite, Gil Dudson, returned from suspension to torment his old team-mates with some ferocious attacking runs but Warrington could not take any further advantage and the first half finished 12-6.

HT: Warrington Wolves 12-6 Catalans Dragons

The Dragons came out strongly in the second half and winger Tom Johnstone continued his impressive scoring record this season with a 53rd-minute try in the left corner, but it was too wide for Mourgue to add the conversion.

But back came the Wolves, a series of penalties taking them further up the pitch where they forced a goal-line drop-out in the 58th minute and they were further boosted when Dragons hooker Michael McIlorum was sin-binned for a dangerous tackle.

Catalans turned the tables when Romano fumbled over the line before centre Matt Ikuvalu followed up moments later with a powerful burst from 10 metres out to put his side ahead for the first time in the game. Mourgue missed the conversion but the Dragons were in front 14-12 with 14 minutes to go.

The Dragons seemed destined for victory but a Romano knock-on five metres from his own line with just three minutes left to play put Warrington in the driving seat.

And when another former home favourite, Josh Drinkwater, spun the ball to the left, Ashton struck the killer blow with his second try of the game.

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