By Dave Whalley
Warrington Wolves travelled to Perpignan to face Catalans Dragons in the Under 19s Academy and despite a spirited performance they went down to defeat at the Stade de Brutus Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The French side were a very big and powerful outfit that saw them build up a healthy 40-4 lead after forty four minutes but to the young Wolves credit they refused to lie down and finished the game very strong to make the final scoreline a lot more respectable.
Catalans opened the scoring in the eighth minute when stand off Lucas Albert broke through the Wolves’ line and rounded the cover to score a final individual try under the posts which he converted himself. Wolves’ centre Harvey Livett collected the restart to put his side on the attack and following a fine run from prop forward Andy Philbin the ball was swept quickly the width of the field for winger Lewis Turner to score in the right corner.
A handling error from the kick-off by the Wolves gave Catalans a scrum ten metres from the line and after setting up a good position Catalans hooker Alrix Da Costa burrowed over from dummy half to score under the posts. Albert converted and then just after the midway point of the half loose forward Matthieu Khedimi powered over at the side of the posts from close range. Albert added the conversion.
The Wolves failed to get the restart ten metres and from the resulting penalty the Dragons moved the ball swiftly along the line for centre Arthur Romano to score wide out on the left. Albert converted and eleven minutes before the break Catalans had a scrum on their own line and from it winger Georgy Gambaro raced sixty metres before passing on to fellow winger Jordan Flovie; after he was tackled the Dragons continued to move towards the Wolves’ line and scrum half Roman Pallares was able to go through a gap to score on the right and make the half time score 28-4 to the Dragons.
Straight from the kick-off at the start of the second half Catalans were on the attack and second row Alexandre Mickalezyk made a sixty metre break that split the Wolves’ defence. He then kicked ahead for Albert to chase and collect the ball to score under the posts to give himself the easiest of conversions. Three minutes later Dragons substitute Mathieu Tovena burrowed over from close range. Albert converted from wide out on the left.
The Wolves then had a sustained spell with the ball in the Catalans half and shortly after the hour mark a short ball from prop forward Pat Moran found scrum half Morgan Smith who stepped round the cover to score under the posts. Centre Harvey Livett converted but Catalans then responded when centre Paul Izard had space out wide to score on the right after Tovena had been held just short.
The closing stages then belonged to the Wolves as they were rewarded for their efforts when the ball was sent along the line to centre Charlie Phythian who sent winger Jack Fox away to score wide out on the left. Livett converted and then in the final minute Smith chipped over the Dragons defence and Livett reacted quickest to collect before passing back inside to Smith who raced clear to score under the posts. Livett added the conversion to make the final score 46-22 in Catalans favour.
After the game Wolves Under 19s head coach Lee Briers said: “The lads will have gained a great experience, not just from the game, but from the weekend as a whole. We were fully aware that the Catalans side were a very good team made up from the top young players in France but the boys had a real dig and hopefully it will put them in good stead for the coming months. We were a little disappointed with the way we turned over possession early in the tackle count and that allowed the Dragons to get on a roll. Even though they took the game away from us the lads never gave up and the way that they finished the game was testament to the team unity that we have.
“The trip has enabled all of the boys to bond and they have all been an absolute credit to themselves and the club. The praise that they have been given for the way that they have conducted themselves is really pleasing and I am delighted with them all. We will be back working hard in training during the week to get ourselves prepared for a trip to Wakefield Trinity Wildcats next Saturday, kick off 2.00pm at Belle Vue.”
Pierre Bise, Jordan Flovie, Paul Izard, Arthur Romano, Georgy Gambaro, Lucas Albert, Romain Pallares, Lambert Belmas, Alrix Da Costa, Quentin Quemener, Jordan Dezaria, Alexandre Mickalezyk, Matthieu Khedimi.
Subs: Mathieu Tovena, Franck Maria, Paul Seguier, Saloty Mendy.
Tries: Albert (8 mins, 41), Da Costa (14), Khedimi (21), Romano (23), Pallares (29), Tovena (44), Izard (68)
Goals: Albert 7 from 8
Declan Kay, Lewis Turner, Harvey Livett, Charlie Phythian, Jack Fox, Will Dagger, Morgan Smith, Andy Philbin, Harry Reardon, Pat Moran, Ellis Gillam, James Jones, Reece Brunt.
Subs: Nathan Ainsworth, Jay Neath, George Shaw, Alex Whalley.
Tries: Turner (11 mins), Smith (64, 80), Fox (74).
Goals: Livett 3 from 4