WIGAN avoided their third Grand Final defeat in a row with a 12-6 win over Warrington in a nail-biter of a Super League Grand Final. Here’s what RLW learned:
1. Josh Charnley bowed out of rugby league with the match-winning try to claim Wigan’s fourth Super League title.
The England winger – who is switching codes – regathered a drilled grubber by Titans-bound Dan Sarginson and managed to touch down before tumbling over the deadball line. Oliver Gildart had earlier crossed to lock the scores after Wigan trailed 6-2 at the break. This was Wigan’s fourth successive Grand Final appearance and their first trophy since 2013. Ex-NRL players Frank-Paul Nuuausala, Taulima Tautai and Willie Isa were in the Wigan side.
2. These two sides often serve up exciting matches and the Grand Final was no different – even if it was lower on points than usual encounters.
More than 70,000 fans created an electric atmosphere inside Manchester United’s Old Trafford. Warrington pushed for a match-levelling try late on but Wigan’s spirited scrambling defence held firm. Winger Lewis Tierney became the first player to follow in his dad’s footsteps in playing in a Grand Final – father Jason Robinson scored a crucial try in the inaugural clash in 1998.
3. This was Warrington’s second final defeat this year, following their agonising loss to Hull FC in the Challenge Cup at Wembley in August.
They were good value for their lead through Dec Patton’s first-half try but couldn’t press home their advantage. Former NRL players Kurt Gidley and Ashton Sims were in the Wolves side. They have now played and lost in three Grand Finals, and their wait for their first Super League title rumbles on…
4. Sean O’Loughlin already had reputation for only playing in the big games, and that was strengthened by his return to the Wigan side for his first match since August 5 following to a leg injury.
The England skipper, who didn’t play at all between the 2013 Challenge Cup Final and Grand Final, was introduced from the bench and the side appeared more settled with him on the pitch. Warrington half Chris Sandow recovered from a knee injury to play his first match since the Challenge Cup Final at Wembley.
5. Mike ‘Stevo’ Stephenson was commentating on the last game of a 28-year broadcasting career.
The Penrith and Great Britain legend has provided the soundtrack for every Grand Final and – love him or hate him – he has been a huge part of Super League. The 69-year-old, who is retiring to his home in Sydney’s northern beaches, leaves behind a clutch of cliches including, most notably, ‘It’s a T-R-Y.’ His commentating partner Eddie Hemmings is continuing next year. Stevo presented the Harry Sunderland Trophy as man of the match to Wigan forward Liam Farrell.
Wigan 12 (Gildart, Charnley tries; Smith 2 goals) beat Warrington 6 (Patton try; Patton 1 goal)