Wigan Warriors showcased rugby league to the capital with an impressive 42-16 win over Catalans in front of the biggest crowd Super League has seen in London for nine years.
Shaun Wane’s side ran in seven tries in front of 8,101 fans at The Den, to move within touching distance of top spot whilst fully justifying the decision to take the match on the road.
“Let’s aim for 16,000 next time!” Wane joked.
“It’s been a great success. To introduce our team to the capital of England is great, for people in London to come and see our team play is a win-win for everyone.
“Catalans have got players from all the way round the world and most of my team are young Wigan kids who have come through our system, we should be very proud and I am.”
Around 40 coachloads of loyal fans, plus many more who travelled by car or train, made the 450 mile round trip to support the club’s expansion into London.
They, and thousands of intrigued locals alike, were treated to big hits and flashes of individual brilliance as the most successful rugby league team came to town.
Matches between the two sides tend to be physical, and powerful prop forward Ben Flower set the tone, charging over for the opening try after 15 minutes.
Catalans hit back through Krisnan Inu but George Williams’ jaw-dropping offload to Matty Bowen, who then stepped the full-back superbly, put the Warriors 12-6 up at the break.
The Dragons scored the opening try of the second half thanks to a fantastic solo effort from Scott Dureau, but Wigan once again hit back in spectacular fashion, Matty Smith passing to Joel Tomkins who instantly turned the ball back inside for Bowen to score his second.
Oliver Gildart scored from a well-placed Williams grubber for 24-12 but a Jordan Sigismeau try put the visitors back within eight points.
Wigan responded by picking up the pace, scoring through Josh Charnley, Larne Patrick and Dom Manfredi in the final quarter to record a comprehensive win.