August 25, 2018 / 4:39 PM / 3 months ago

Rugby league-Catalans secure historic Challenge Cup victory

LONDON, Aug 25 (Reuters) - Catalans Dragons won their first major trophy with a historic 20-14 victory over Warrington Wolves in the Challenge Cup Final at Wembley on Saturday.

The French side scored tries through Lewis Tierney, Benjamin Garcia and Brayden Wiliame, with the excellent Josh Drinkwater kicking four goals, including two superb conversions from the touchline.

Warrington responded with tries from Ben Murdoch-Masila and George King but Steve McNamara’s side defended their six-point advantage heroically in the closing stages to become the first non-English side to lift the trophy.

“It was incredible for us. We played really well for 55 minutes then nearly blew it,” McNamara told the BBC.

“I’m pleased for the fans and our owners and I’m over the moon. It was really tough. They deserve it, they’ve been through so much, we’ve been underdogs for so long.”

As they did in their shock semi-final victory over runaway Super League leaders St Helens, Catalans’ powerful forward pack dominated the first half against their more fancied opponents.

Tierney dived over in the corner for the French side and, though the powerful Murdoch-Masila responded for the Wolves, Garcia burrowed over from close range to open up a 14-6 lead at the break.

Tony Gigot’s brilliant 40-20 set the field position for Wiliame to burst over at the end of a sweeping move after the interval to put the Dragons 20-6 ahead.

Warrington, in their fifth Wembley showpiece in 10 years, didn’t truly come alive until the final quarter when King went over but the Dragons, who only just survived relegation from the Super League last season, held on.

“For the French fans it’s beautiful,” Gigot said. We worked so hard. It will be a very good boost. All the French players here push and we want to show to everyone we can play rugby league in France.” (Reporting by Tom Hayward, editing by Ed Osmond)

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