Warrington Wolves’ 61 year wait to be crowned domestic champions will continue after they fell to defeat at the hands of Wigan Warriors in the Super League Grand Final at Old Trafford last weekend. Despite winning the League Leaders Shield and being ahead at the end of the first half, The Wire were eventually undone by the dogged determination of the Warriors, who relied on a fine performance from Liam Farrell and the Rugby Union Premiership-bound Josh Charnley to fight back in the second-half to take the spoils by 12 points to 6.
Three time Champions since the Super League was created in 1996, Wigan started the game in spritely fashion with Matty Smith’s penalty goal after eight minutes, putting the Cherry and Whites in front. Josh Charnley previously thought that he had increased the advantage with the first try of the game, only to be denied out by the video referee due to a forward pass from Anthony Gelling. The first try ended up going to Wire, when Declan Patton went over, converting the points himself to give his team a four point lead. Those were the final additions to the score-line in the first half, but Warrington continued to ask questions of the Warriors’ defence, and were the deserved leaders going into the break.
The second-half looked more promising for Wigan, and in the end it was just two short minutes that changed the complexion of the entire final and ultimately determined the Super League Champions for 2016. Ryan Atkins effort to add to Warrington’s lead in the 54th minute was adjudged to have come loose and was taken off by the referee. Moments later, Oliver Gidart snuck into the opposite corner for Wigan to add four more points for the Warriors and score the 100th try in the history of the Grand Final. Smith missed the conversion but in the end it didn’t matter; the departing Charnley carried their team’s second try of the match to make the score 10-6. After that, Warrington never looked like getting back into it. Smith redeemed himself for the two previous missed conversions with a textbook penalty and the game was closed out at 12 points to 6.
All things considered, Wigan probably deserved their win, despite it not being a vintage performance from the Cherry and Whites. It felt appropriate that Josh Charnley concluded his Rugby League career with a try in a Grand Final which contributed to his side’s victory. For Warrington, it was a case of close but no cigar once again. It feels like the Wolves must be closing in on a Super League trophy before too long, but for now it’s Wigan’s time – they’ve put in the hard work, and they can revel in their successes until it all begins again next year.
Photo Credit: Wigan Warriors