2 days ago
Wigan send stalwarts out on fairy tale note with Grand Final
Wigan were crowned Super League champions, after a tense 12-4 success at Old Trafford. The result completes a trilogy of final successes against Warrington Wolves to cap off the 2018 season.
12 of the 16 points in this contest, were scored in a frantic first half where Josh Charnley dived over for the Wolves before a pair of efforts from Warriors wingers Dom Manfredi and Tom Davies made it 8-4 at the break. In a downbeat second half, Wolves were errant and a superb defensive effort from the Warriors combined with a late Manfredi second sealed a fairytale ending for a group of long-serving Warriors.
For a majority of the contest, the game didn't reach great heights. Both teams defended stoutly, but the ball spent plenty of time on the deck, once the Warriors hit the lead, they were content to defend their way to 22nd championship, their fifth of the Super League era.
In the first half, the contest produced several moments of quality. Former Warrior, Josh Charnley opened the contest with a four-pointer after some quick hands released him to give Wolves the lead, for the first time in their third attempt at dethroning the Warriors.
From there, Wigan took over. In a similar piece of play to Charnley's opener, Dom Manfredi, a bit-part player for much of the season dived over, quickly followed by some invention from George Williams to kick through for Tom Davies to make it 8-4 for the cherry and whites. That is how the scoreline stayed as the two sides had a coming together in the tunnel at oranges.
Warrington, chasing their first championship since 1955, had their chances to erase the deficit. Twice, Stefan Ratchford popped through the defensive line, but stagnant attack, wrong choices and suffocating defense from Wigan prevented them getting close enough.
The Warriors put the final nail in the coffin in the 77th, the Wolves defense rushed up which gave the Warriors enough time to shuttle the ball through the hands, as a flying Manfredi sent the travelling Cherries fans into raptures.
It served as a fitting finale for a series of faithful Warriors servants. Coach Shaun Wane has been at the club for 30+ years in various roles, now heads to rugby union, and was clearly emotional in the post-match talk, about his relationship with the club, city and it's fans.
On the player's side, talisman Sam Tomkins makes the switch to the south of France, with Catalans while John Bateman and Ryan Sutton travel down under to link up with Canberra for next season.
It will be a strange sight, seeing a reworked Wigan side next season, with someone new in the dugout. For now, the Warriors fans will celebrate deep into the night with their fifth Super League success.
For Warrington, they've been here before. Losing the 2013 and 2016 Grand Finals to the same opponents, but the familiar refrain of "it's always your year" will haunt the Wolves fans in a season, where they lost both the Challenge Cup (against Catalans) and the Grand Final.
There is a bright spot though, as last year, the Wolves were in the middle 8s fighting for survival. Now, they have a stable roster, with a competent coach in Steve Price, and maybe, next year will be their year.
Earlier in the day, Wigan Warriors women were crowned Women's Super League champions in their inaugural year, as they defeated Leeds Rhinos, 18-16, with thanks to a late Charlotte Foley penalty goal.
Wigan Warriors 12 Warrington Wolves 4
Venue: Old Trafford
Date: Sunday 14 October 2018 at 4:00am
Wigan Warriors (12)
Tries: Dom Manfredi 2, Tom Davies
Warrington Wolves (4)
Tries: Josh Charnley