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Last Updated: Sunday, 29 July 2007, 16:16 GMT 17:16 UK
Catalans v Wigan as it happened
Carnegie Challenge Cup semi-final at Halliwell Jones Stadium (1515 BST)


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By Julian Shea

1707: "To quote a Saints fan of my acquaintance, "this is the sort of result that has got Wigan coaches sacked in the past."
BBC Sport's Elizabeth Hudson, in Warrington

FULL TIME: Catalans 37-24 Wigan:
Charlotte Cuadrat and family, enjoy your flight home tonight. The hooter goes to bring an end to one of the most remarkable matches I've seen in years, and the Dragons make history as the first French team clinch a place in the first final at Wembley.


"The guys will have realised they've done something special, it's on another level now"
Catalans Dragons coach Mick Potter.

1659: The end of this match is like the final round of a heavyweight bout, where both boxers are totally punched out and the only thing keeping either of them on their feet is leaning on the other.

Wigan are determined to at least go down fighting, and the quality of the passing doesn't matter as long as they keep the ball alive. On the fifth tackle, yards short of the line, Sean O'Loughlin's pass is pounced upon by Adam Mogg. That was, officially, Wigan's final chance.

1655: Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire" is echoing round the stadium. But if those singing it are Catalans followers, they should remember that song was adopted by Liverpool fans as one of their anthems after their team (wearing red) staged one of football's most remarkable comebacks ever to beat Milan (in white) after they had scored three early goals.

Today, the Dragons - in white - scored three early goals against the Reds and looked to be cruising to victory but then there was a bit of a comeback ..... less than five minutes left, but this one's far from over.

1651: TRY Catalans 37-24 Wigan:
Stacey Jones comes back on the pitch having served his sin-bin ban, and his first touch is a kick-through for Jason Croker to touch down beneath the posts for what must surely be the match-clinching try. Was anyone in any doubt as to just how important Jones is? Those five seconds of action answered that question better than words ever could.

Jones' goal surely wins it for the Dragons - doesn't it? Seven minutes to go, 13 points the difference....

1650: "The noise level in the stadium has increased dramatically. It's bite your nails time for everyone here - including me."
BBC Sport's Elizabeth Hudson, knawing her nails in Warrington.

1647: Watching the Dragons is like watching a circus high-wire performer have a panic attack halfway through his act. Wigan can almost smell the desperation coming from their opponents, and only a desperate last-gasp tackle denies Trent Barrett a try in the right-hand corner.

1643: TRY Catalans 31-24 Wigan:
Will the Dragons play up the jumper football as they try and survive Jones' sin-binning? On the contrary, they go on the attack, but it blows up in their faces on the final tackle as Jason Croker kicks the ball, straight into the grasp of Sean O'Loughlin.

He releases Mark Calderwood to sprint in 80 yards and touch down. Pat Richards adds two more points. Those of a nervous disposition.... are watching the wrong sport. How good is rugby league????

1640: TRY Catalans 31-18 Wigan:
An instant response - Wigan make the most of their one-man advantage, piling on the pressure on the right-hand side before Darrell Goulding goes over in the corner. Pat Richards adds the goal from right on the touchline. The next 16 minutes are going to be nerve-shredding.

1639: "For one of the most experienced players in the world, that was a dumb play."
Five Live's Stuart Pike.

1638: A moment of stupidity that could have a huge bearing on the game. Stacey Jones is sin-binned for a professional foul, having deliberately put his hand up in the air to block the ball being thrown forward for a quick Wigan penalty. Wigan will never have a better chance to close the gap - their opponents are not just a man down, they are Stacey Jones down.

1633: "The French commentator sitting in front of me has been getting more animated throughout the game. If the Dragons win I'm expecting an emotional outburst along the lines of "Brian Noble, your boys took a hell of a beating."
BBC Sport's Elizabeth Hudson - readers who are too young to recognise that reference to a notorious England v Norway World Cup qualifier in the 1980s should ask an older sportsfan, who is sure to remember it.

1632: Maybe sensing the slightest scent of blood, Wigan hurl themselves into attack, determined to either stage a remarkable comeback or go down fighting. But when Brian Fletcher drops the ball in the tackle right under the posts, it looks like their latest counter is all in vain.

1629: TRY Catalans 31-12 Wigan:
At least Wigan have made it into double figures. Micky Higham starts and finishes off a slick passing move to bag Wigan's second try, with Pat Richards adding the goal.

1627: GOAL Catalans 31-6 Wigan:
Just to add to the Wigan fans' torture, Stacey Jones adds a drop goal. Boos ring out from the massed ranks of Wigan fans, and in the stands, Maurice Lindsay and Dave Whelan look rather dazed and confused.

1625: TRY Catalans 30-6 Wigan:
Stacey Jones follow up his own kick, rips the ball from the grasp of a Wigan defender and flicks it out to Vincent Duport, who holds off Mark Calderwood to touch down in the left-hand corner. Jones adds the goal. This is threatening to be the most significant day in French rugby league since the sport was almost wiped out during World War 2.

1621: "Wigan are doing a very good impression of a beaten side here."
BBC Sport's Dave Woods.

1618: Wigan have the ball for a whole set of six... and fail to do anything with it, so possession is turned over.

On the final tackle, Wigan were passing the ball around basketball-style, desperately trying to find someone with time and room to kick the ball, but not a chance - the Dragons closed down every possible avenue. Stirring stuff by the men in white.

1616: And we're off again - Wigan go straight into attack, looking to cut that lead nice and early but lose possession near the line. However, just as the counter attack is starting, Jerome Guisset knocks on and gives Wigan a second chance close to the goal-line. Could this prove a significant mistake?

1613: "I was really looking forward to a Saints v Wigan final but doesn't look likely now! Hasn't been a very good week for the Pie eaters - still, there's always next year!"
supersaints101, via 606

1611: Back to the dressing room, and it seems I underestimated Brian Noble's feelings - the teacups aren't exactly flying, but he certainly seems to be telling his players precisely what he thought of that first 40 minutes. He's gone out of the room leaving the players to stew in their own juice for a bit, and for some leaders to emerge.

1607: The television cameras in the dressing rooms tell contrasting stories. It's probably just as well they don't have microphones attached. Wigan boss Brian Noble looks like he is having a stern word with his players, possibly pointing out some mistakes, but not going too ballistic at them. In the Dragons dressing room, the players are sitting heads bowed, listening intently to Mick Potter's words, which are presumably something along the lines of "great - now do that again."

1605: "We all said before the game how Wigan were going to be dominant, but obviously someone forgot to tell the Dragons players that - they've come out all guns blazing."
Hull KR boss Justin Morgan.

1601 HALF-TIME Catalans 24-6 Wigan:
40 of the most remarkable minutes the Challenge Cup has seen in years come to an end with the half-time whistle. Wigan leave the pitch to a chorus of boos. I need a lie down, and I'm sure I'm not the only one.

1600 GOAL Catalans 24-6 Wigan:
Stacey Jones' goal reinforces the Dragons' lead just ahead of the break. The half-time score from the KC Stadium is Hull 26 Salford 10, for those whose attentions are not totally focussed on matters in Warrington.

1558: "The loudest cheer of the day so far greeted that Leuluai try, how Wigan needed it."
BBC Sport's Elizabeth Hudson.

1555: TRY Catalans 22-6 Wigan:
No sooner said than done, Jon - Adam Mogg concedes a penalty for holding, and Thomas Leuluai hurled himself over the line to touch down and put Wigan on the scoreboard for the first time. Pat Richards converts.

"Catalans coach Mick Potter is looking calm behind his sunglasses, but inside he must be delighted with how his side are doing."
BBC Sport's Elizabeth Hudson.

1554: "Wigan need to score before half-time. If they don't, then I'm certain there is no way back for them".
Jon Wilkin, Five Live summariser.

1553: If Wigan fans thought their week couldn't get worse after the four-point deduction for breaking the salary cap, they were sorely mistaken. 30 minutes gone, and the players still look totally punchdrunk.

The Dragons, on the other hand, must be in dreamland - this game is being shown live on television in France, so the whole country will be seeing what they are doing. Move over the Tour de France, there's a new story in town.

1548: Wigan's best - well, only really - try-scoring chance so far, with Trent Barrett desperately stretching to go over in the right-hand corner, but he loses the ball on the line as he is swamped by white shirts. The ferocity of the French side's defending sums up their attitude so far.

1547: Just as the game seems to be settling down, Wigan's David Vaealiki and Catalans' Adam Mogg have a minor outbreak of handbags near the Dragons tryline after Mogg was penalised for holding down.

1545: Another equally one-sided game is taking place in Super League. Having kicked off at the same time at the KC Stadium, Hull FC are 26-0 up on Salford.

1543: "Any Wiganers want to sell their tickets to Wembley?"
susan070571, via 606

1541: "There's just been no control from Wigan in defence. They look all at sea. Catalans are making so much easy yardage. The Catalans players must be pinching themselves."
Jon Wilkin, Five Live summariser

1537: TRY Catalans 22-0 Wigan:
You can rub your eyes as much as you want, but yes you are reading the scoreline correctly. Thomas Leuluai's knock-on sets up another Dragons assault, and McGuire sticks to the winning formula - a chip through, Mark Calderwood and Pat Richards both fail to deal with and Vincent Duport has the simplest of tasks touching down. Jones misses the afters.

1536: "It's like Sheffield United being 3-0 up against Chelsea after 15 minutes of an FA Cup final."
Five Live's Stuart Pike

1534: "The Wigan fans have gone quiet, and the locals who are following the Dragons are chanting 'easy, easy.'"
BBC Sport's Elizabeth Hudson

1531: TRY Catalans 18-0 Wigan:
Can this really be happening? Casey McGuire's kick through bounces and totally wrong-foots fullback Pat Richards, and Adam Mogg is on hand to gather up and touch down. From in front of the posts, Jones stretches their advantage.

1526: TRY Catalans 12-0 Wigan
John Wilson goes over in the left-hand corner and after another consultation with the video ref to check whether the ball was grounded, the try is given. Jones curls in another stunning goal kick from the touchline.

1525: John Wilson comes inches from adding a second try as he chases a kick-through, but the video referee reveals he did not get downward pressure on the ball. Wigan look shell-shocked - unsurprisingly.

"That's a massive dent in Wigan's ego for Catalans to score so early on in the game."
Jon Wilkin, Five Live summariser.

1521: TRY Catalans 6-0 Wigan:
The first meaningful attack from either side results in a try for Casey McGuire. He began the passing move, Wigan's Thomas Leuluai is caught napping and a slick reverse pass by Khabbati sent him over the try to touch down. Stand-in goal kicker Stacey Jones adds the extras.

1519: Warrington coach Paul Cullen had the pitch specifically made to major stadium specifications, so the players are playing on a Cup Final-sized pitch, which seems to be confusing some of them. Trent Barrett's first two kicks for Wigan both go beyond the goal line and out of play.

1515: Pre-match predictions from the pundits - Justin Morgan says Wigan by 10 points, John Kear says Wigan but will not commit to a margin.

1507: Wigan coach Brian Noble says there are no injury worries over any of his players. He predicts the game will be "a huge tussle", and says he hopes the storm over Wigan's salary cap breach will fire up his players even more.

1500: Even Warrington's mascot Wolfie is wearing a Dragons shirt for the day. The French word for wolf is "loup", by the way.

1445: "First bit of team news from the Wigan camp. Chris Ashton is out, Pat Richards will start at full-back, Stuart Fielden is fit to play after fears about concussion, and Paul Prescott starts on the bench."
BBC Sport's Elizabeth Hudson

1440: "Oh, and no surprise, most of the Warrington fans here today are supporting the Dragons."
BBC Sport's Elizabeth Hudson

1425: Among the Super League coaching contingent here today is Hull KR's Justin Morgan, a man known for his large shoe collection.
"Today's offering is a pair of grey, almost snakeskin-like lace-ups teamed with pale blue socks with pink spots."
BBC Sport's Elizabeth Hudson, rugby league and fashion correspondent

1420: "Earlier on I met six members of the Cuadrat family from Perpignan. They are Catalans fans whose trip here is a surprise treat for daughter Charlotte. It was 30 degrees in France yesterday and there were 100 people on their flight over this morning. The players will be on the same flight back. If Catalans win, the Cuadrats, whose favourite player is Cyril Gossard, say they will be going to Wembley."
BBC Sport's Elizabeth Hudson, in Warrington

All eyes are on Warrington as Wigan and the Catalans Dragons go head-to-head for the chance to take on St Helens in the first final back at the newly rebuilt Wembley.

The last Cup final at Wembley was in 1999, when Leeds beat London Broncos 52-16 in front of 73,242 spectators.

Since then, the final has been played at Murrayfield (2000 and 2002), Twickenham (2001 and 2006) and the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff (2002-2005).

You can e-mail a question to the commentary team at or text 81111.


The Dragons must do without top scorer Thomas Bosc, who broke his arm against Hull, as well as long-term absentees Djamel Fakir and Dimitri Pelo.

Bosc, an ever-present this season, is out for at least six weeks so Vincent Duport is likely to stand in with Stacey Jones will be their kicker.

Wigan are boosted by the return of Stuart Fielden, who was knocked out against St Helens last week.

Paul Prescott is also available after recovering from an ankle injury.

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