Wigan Warriors won their fourth Grand Final after beating Warrington Wolves 12-6 in an intense, exciting and nail-biting game down at Old Trafford on Saturday evening.
NERVOUS, TENSE AND ERROR-RIDDEN START
As kick-off got nearer, and the fans started to arrive, you could feel and hear the tension in the air. As a fan, the Grand Final is the worst 80 minutes of your life, it’s so nail-biting and as the game goes on, no matter the score, every fan gets more nervous. Now thats just the fans, I couldn’t imagine what the players feel like. The pressure started to show, as the game went on, and it took a while for either side to really settle in this game.
Within the first half, you could clearly see the pressure on both teams and how nervous the players were. Wigan did seem to settle first, kicking an early penalty to calm the storm. However, Wigan may have settled first, but silly errors started to creep into their game, with back-to-back dropped balls near their own line, which gave Warrington not only great field position, but a confidence boost seeing their opponents make so many mistakes.
Warrington finally got their breakthrough in the 20th minute, when young Declan Patton found space in the Wigan defence to go over for the first try of the game. Warrington had endless opportunities in the first half, and blew at least four great chances to extend their lead. Wigan can find themselves lucky that they only went in 6-2 behind at halftime.
FABULOUS SECOND HALF
Wigan didn’t play bad and in the first half, it was just a few mistakes that cost them the lead. As a fan sat there, I still felt quite confident of the win, all Wigan needed to do was cut out those costly errors and the rest would follow. As the second half started, you could see how both sides had stepped up their game. It was an end-to-end game at this point and both attacks were finding more gaps.
Then came what I believe was the game changer. Ryan Atkins looked to have scored in the corner for Warrington and further their lead. However, the video showed that Atkins and actually dropped the ball over the line, therefore the try was not given. As the ‘No Try’ sign came over the screen, you felt a sense of relief and belief in the Wigan fans, knowing they’d gotten away with one.
Only a couple minutes later, Wigan went up the other end and scored to level up the game. As Liam Farrell found a gap in the defence, Oliver Gildart was there to go over for the easy finish and score a record 100th Grand Final try. The game seemed to change at this point, and Wigan looked the team more in control of the game. You knew the final 20 minutes where going to seem endless.
The errors started to creep into Warrington game at this point, and a costly one on their own line from Tom Lineham, gave Wigan some vital fields position. In the 63rd minute, Wigan took the lead when a fantastic grubber from Dan Sarginson was pounced on by Josh Charnley who scored in his last game for Wigan. The Warriors led 10-6 with 16 minutes to go.
ONE OF THE BEST
The final 10 minutes of this game was ridiculous, and thats the only word that really describes it. It was utterly fascinating, nerve-racking and completely brilliant at the same time. Sitting there as a Wigan fan, watching your side battle to hold onto their lead was hard work. I’d imagine even worse for the Warrington fans who was shouting their team onto victory, hoping they could break the Wigan line just one more time this season.
However, with just seven minutes to go, Wigan got a penalty slap bang in front of the sticks and decided to kick for goal. Smith kicked the goal and Wigan led 12-6. Warrington still only need the one try to get back into the game, but now needed the conversion to level it up. With so little time left, it was all hands on deck for the Wolves. The decided to kick short from the resulting kick-off and regained the ball.
They had a full set on the Wigan line with only minutes to spare. A chance in the corner came and went after a fantastic effort from the Wigan players to force Matty Russell into touch. Wigan made one more error, and it could’ve been their worse of the season, when Matty Smith kicked the ball out on the full to give the Wolves the ball on the halfway line with less than two minutes to go.
Warrington got close and pressed the Wigan defence to the edge. As the ball was kept alive the seconds seemed to go slower and slower, for Warrington they where going quicker and quicker. As Smith wrapped up Gidley on the last tackle, right on the Wigan line, a roar went up from the Wigan fans as they knew, with only 40 seconds to go, their side had won it. Wigan ran out the final seconds, and the whistle blew for the final time this season, as Wigan Warriors defeated Warrington Wolves 12-6 and were crowned the 2016 Super League Champions.
A GREAT SEND-OFF
One of the greatest moments for Wigan fans was seeing Josh Charnley and Dan Sarginson leave as Champions, with that Super League winners ring on their finger. It was the best way possible for both players to bow out of their Wigan career, I’m sure they couldn’t have asked for a better way to finish their Wigan chapter.
Not only did they leave as winners, but Charnley was to score the winning try, which would’ve been the highest of highs he’d of had as a Wigan player. It was also Dan Sarginson who made the assist for that try. It was a real fitting moment for both players, as they came together and gave the Wigan fans one last reason to cheer their name.
Josh Charnley will be switching codes and join Sale Sharks next season and Dan Sarginson is off to NRL side Gold Coast Titans. Both players will be moving onto the next chapter of their careers, and both didn’t rule out a return to Wigan in the future. I’m sure Wigan fans will be more than happy to welcome both players back. Wigan have done this in the past with players such as, Sam Tomkins, Lee Mossop and Joe Burgess. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them back in Wigan colours.
Warrington Wolves head coach, Tony Smith:
“This will spur us on, we’ll bring one home soon. We’ve got some young guys there who are developing and will learn from this, will get stronger. I don’t think you have to lose a final to win one but you do get more determined – that’s what we’ll use it for.”
“We had a few opportunities throughout the game where we crossed the try line, or was close to doing so. We needed to take those chances. It was not to be tonight. It was costly in such a tight match.”
“We tried hard. I am proud of my team’s effort. They are a good bunch and worked hard for one another. But credit to Wigan, they were gritty but have opened up and ask a lot more questions now.”
Credit to Warrington Guardian: http://www.warringtonguardian.co.uk/sport/14791066.Tony_Smith__We_will_get_that_win_soon/
Wigan Warriors head coach, Shaun Wane:
“Even as a player, I’ve been here for 30 years, that’s the best win we’ve had. The adversity we’ve put up with is unbelievable, to get the win with this close-knit group of players, never say die attitude, I’m so pleased.”
“Even when the game was 15 minutes to go, the way we’ve won games we’ve stayed in until the last second. I was confident we could get this game – every respect to Warrington, a champion club, and to get the win against them was really special.”
“I’m sorry to see them leave, but for Josh to get the final try was fantastic. We’ve sent Dan (Sarginson) away with a ring, and I hope he goes well at Gold Coast.”
Credit to BBC Sport: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/rugby-league/37598963
Warrington Wolves’ Stefan Ratchford:
“”When we were stood behind the posts we were saying ‘so what, these things happen in games, we’re still confident. I know it’s going to look pivotal when they went down the other end and scored.”
But when we were stood behind the posts we were saying ‘so what, these things happen in games, we’re still confident. There was no panic, we didn’t feel like that was a game-changer as such, it was more Wigan’s tactics in the second half.”
We’ve lost a Grand Final and we’re obviously we’re devastated with that. But give it a couple of days and there’s been one team who’s been in both finals and won the league leaders so that’s what we can be really proud of.”
Wigan Warriors’ Willie Isa:
“It was amazing! I know everyone says it after winning a final but I am genuinely speechless. I don’t know what to say. This is the biggest and best achievement of my career.”
I’m not sure how I will celebrate the win this week because I don’t drink! But I’ll spend time with my family and take it all in. It was nice to celebrate the game with my family, the boys and the fans because they were awesome. It was a really great day.”
“My parents travel a lot just to see me play sometimes but ever since I moved to England, it made it hard for them to get down so I am happy that I got to give something back to them.”
Credit to Wigan Warriors: http://www.wiganwarriors.com/news/2016-10-10-biggest-and-best
IN THE SHEDS
As expected, this was a real brutal game of rugby league. From the first hit in the game, to the very last, bodies were put on the line. Amazingly, there were no incidents in this game that would call the RFL to look back on and take action.
While players went down hurt, wore the crimson mask and hobbled on one leg. Again, amazingly there were no immediate injuries that occurred from this game.
Warrington Wolves: (6) 6
Goals: Patton 1/1
Wigan Warriors: (2) 12
Tries: Gildart, Charnley
Goals: Smith 2/4
Warrington Wolves: Ratchford; Lineham, R Evans, Atkins, Russell; Gidley, Patton; Hill, Clark, Sims, Wilde, Hughes, Westerman.
Replacements: T King, G King, Sandow, Bailey.
Wigan Warriors: Sarginson; Charnley, Gelling, Gildart, Tierney; Williams, Smith; Nuuausala, Powell, Flower, Bateman, Farrell, Isa.
Replacements: Tautai, Sutton, Crosby, O’Loughlin.
Referee: Robert Hicks
Harry Sunderland Winner: Liam Farrell (Wigan Warriors)
Venue: Old Trafford, Manachester
Date/Time: Saturday 8th October 2016 – 18:00pm GMT