Wigan Warriors will play Warrington Wolves in the 19th Grand Final at Old Trafford on Saturday. Here are five reasons as to why I think Wigan Warriors will be the team to go on and lift the prestigious trophy for the fourth time in their illustrious history.
It’s safe to say that Wigan Warriors have the advantage when it comes to Grand Final victory. Wigan have appeared in eight Grand Finals, winning three of them. Meanwhile, Warrington Wolves have only been in two, winning neither of those games.
I feel Warrington will be under the most pressure, not only being slight favourites in the game, but the added pressure of trying to win their maiden Grand Final. On the other side, Wigan will be looking to stop the rot of back-to-back loses at Old Trafford. Comfort will come knowing their last win there was against Warrington back in 2013.
While Warrington have not experienced the glorious feeling of winning at Old Trafford, their head coach, Tony Smith has. Smith has won the Grand Final twice while he was head coach down at Leeds Rhinos. So Warrington do have a man in charge that knows how to get the job done and will prepare his players the best way possible.
Shaun Wane has guided his Wigan side to three Grand Finals in the past three years, which is a remarkable effort. However, the Warriors head coach only has the one winners medal. Wane will be looking to kill the demons and secure his second Grand Final victory in what will be his fourth attempt.
Going into this game Wigan Warriors are the clear form side, having won their previous four games. Wigan have wins away at Hull FC, away at Warrington, Catalans at home and then obviously their play-off semi-final win over Hull FC at the DW last week. They’ve beaten sides at the top of their game, at home and away, which will only boost their confidence.
Since losing to Widnes at home over a month ago, Wigan have turned their season round, a turnaround in which they’ve completely upped their game, both in attack and defence. However, the main change has come in their attack. For the majority of the season, Wigan have been labelled as “boring to watch”.
Now, while thats hard to disagree with, especially as a fan who’s seen every game Wigan have played this season, this past month, when its mattered the most, they’ve really turned on the style and started to play some actual rugby. They’ve started to score some more attractive tries, and putting more points on the scoreboard than they have managed previously this season.
They will be going into this game full of confidence, and feeling like Warrington is just another hurdle in their goal to win their fourth Grand Final. I don’t think it mattered which side Wigan faced this weekend, they would be ready for each of them. With the form they’re in, it’ll take a great effort from Warrington to stop them.
SMITH AND WILLIAMS
It’s been a real funny season for this half-back pairing. Last season, they was arguably the best pairing in the league. Williams being the most impressive as the young 20-year old player, who was just making his mark on the side. While Smith was the experienced player, helping out his younger partner.
Smith is a player who hardly misses a game, I believe he’s missed one game in over a year for Wigan, and that sort of consistency in the side only improves his game. As for Williams, he got injured early in the season, and would go on to miss quite a few games. Before his injury the paining was doing well together, and his injury stopped the flow.
As Williams returned later in the season, the pairing struggled to get back to their previous form. Both players struggled to create and the rest of the side was struggling because of it. As the season went on they started to have some great games and some poor games, they couldn’t quite find any real consistency.
However, towards the end of the season, they have started to play more regularly with each other and have hit some great form right now. Williams in particular, who is close to being Wigan’s player of the season. The England international has the ability to change a game in a single moment, he’s exciting to watch when he’s got ball in hand.
LAST TIME IN CHERRY AND WHITE
For Josh Charnley and Dan Sarginson, this will be their final game wearing the famous cherry and white jersey. With both players leaving the Warriors at the end of the season, they will both be looking to end their Wigan careers on a high, by winning the Grand Final.
Both players have been really influential for the Warriors this season. Charnley having to step up and replace the tries of Joe Burgess, while later in the season make up for the loss of Dom Manfredi, following his injury. There has been a huge amount of pressure on the England man’s shoulders this season, pressure I feel he’s handled really well.
As for Dan Sarginson, he’ll be looking to finish his Wigan career with a trophy. He’s had to help out when needed this season, and done so with supreme confidence and belief in his own abilities. He’s had to help out on the wing, at centre and even at full-back, the position he’ll be playing come Saturday.
Both players are key to helping Wigan reach their goal of winning the Grand Final come Saturday and as said previously, will be looking to finish their Wigan careers in style, and making it a great send-off. Charnley will be switching codes and is off to play for Sale Sharks. Meanwhile, Dan Sarginson is off to NRL side Gold Coast Titans.
POINT TO PROVE
Wigan will be in their fourth consecutive Grand Final when they face Warrington Wolves on Saturday. In 2013 they faced Warrington, where they won 30-16. In 2014 and 2015 they lost to St Helens and Leeds Rhinos, in what were real tight encounters, that could’ve gone either way.
Having lost their two previous Grand Finals, Wigan will definitely be looking to stop the rot and get back to winning ways. Wigan haven’t won a trophy since that Grand Final victory in 2013, and there are a lot of demons going around the Wigan camp that they will be looking to get rid of at Old Trafford.
I believe this will play a huge factor in this Final. On one side, theres Warrington who have never won a Grand Final, having lost their only two Finals. Then theres Wigan who have won three over the last 18 years, while losing in five. Both sides will be looking to change their fortunes, but Wigan just have the edge having won it before.
Tony Smith has been there and won it with Leeds Rhinos back in 2004 and 2007. While Shaun Wane has won the trophy once as a head coach in 2013, but was the assistant when Wigan beat St Helens in the 2010 Grand Final. So both sides have the knowledge and experience that can guide them to Grand Final glory.