Millwall hosts biggest super league crowd in London for nine years
Millwall took the innovative step of hosting the first ever Super8s game at The Den on Saturday when Wigan Warriors played Catalan Dragons in front of 8,101 fans - the biggest Super League crowd in London for nine years.
The Den was transformed for the day with huge red and white flags draped across the seating in the North and Stand Stand Upper tiers, advertising hoarding swapped and even a large 'Welcome to Wigan Warriors' rug welcoming guests in the Main Reception area of the stadium.
Around 40 coaches full of Wigan fans, along with thousands more who had made the journey down by car and train, took their seats at The Den hell bent on enjoying the afternoon.
The Wigan players did a lap of the pitch before kick-off to show their appreciation for those supporters who had made the long trek down south for the game, and they were rewarded as their heroes recorded a 42-16 win.
At times it did seem a little surreal watching 13 players in red and white hoops charging down the pitch with a different shaped ball, but then this was Rugby, not Football, League!
Warriors opened the scoring with an excellent try from Ben Flower, who used great strength and determination to bulldoze his way through the heart of the Catalans defence. Matty Bowen was on goal-kicking duty and duly converted for a 6-0 lead.
However the French side hit back and levelled with a try from Krisnan Inu, superbly converted from wide on the left by Scott Dureau.
Wigan regained the lead with a great try from Bowen. Sean O'Loughlin fed George Williams and his neat pass picked out Bowen, who had the pace and poise to round Morgan Escare and drive over the line.
Bowen kicked the resulting goal to hand Wigan a 12-6 lead in an opening half that didn't see the most polished of performances from either side, but was not lacking in effort or commitment.
The second period started at pace and Catalan were quickly back on level terms, with Dureau first scoring a try and then despatching an accurate goal kick to make it 12 apiece.
With the Wigan fans finding their voices again, back came Warriors who scored a peach of a try from Bowen. It looked like a move straight off the training pitch as a great ball from Joel Tomkins found the superb Bowen, who ran a great line on the inside to score. He maintained his 100 per cent return with another clinical goal kick for an 18-12 lead.
Another six points were soon on the board for a 24-12 advantage; Oliver Gildart chasing Williams' perfectly weighted grubber and Man of the Match Bowen with his fourth successful goal kick of the game.
Jordan Sigismeau scored against the run of play to reduce the deficit, but that was all Wigan needed to go into overdrive as they stepped up a gear and rammed home their superiority.
A brilliant mazy run by Bowen, who weaved past five defenders in the build-up, set up Josh Charnley for Wigan's fifth try of the match which Bowen duly converted.
Further textbook tries from Larne Patrick and Dom Manfredi - both converted by the irrepressible Bowen - put the seal on an emphatic win.
The hooter at the final whistle brought an end to a game well received by an appreciative crowd who seemed to have enjoyed their first experience of Super League at The Den.