A physical presence in the game of rugby league is imperative to win games and when your team does not perform in that regard, it can prove costly – and for the Widnes Vikings, that was just the case, as the Catalan Dragons went on a try-scoring romp in the second half to win 46-14.
Widnes coach Dennis Betts admitted that his side was just physically outmatched in the second half by the Dragons, a half in which they failed to score a single point after leading 14-12 at half-time.
“I feel like Brian Clough but it was a game of two halves tonight. When we came out in the second half, they scored first and then we just couldn’t get ourselves back into the game,” said Betts.
“They just seemed to roll over the top of us and that gave [Eloi] Pelissier the opportunity to kill us around the ruck.
“His speed and his directness on the back of the physicality of their forwards was too hard for us to handle and we just couldn’t catch our breath.
“We stopped bending our backs in defence, tried to take a couple of short cuts to try to slow them down with hands in the ruck and the ball came out and the referee penalised us.
“That’s what happens when you’re going backwards like we were, we were just absorbing the game and giving penalties away because we couldn’t get back.”
In contrast to this, Dragons coach Laurent Frayssinous was over the moon with his side’s second half performance and took a lot out of the way his side fought back.
“I was very pleased with our second-half performance, the players stuck to the game plan and knew what their strengths are and played to them,” said Frayssinous.
“We have a very good team when we do that. We don’t want to take short cuts and that’s what we did last week (against Wigan) and in the first half tonight. We respected the ball and did the hard work in the second half, and it showed on the scoreboard.”