O’Loughlin “gutted” with final defeat

Sean O'Loughlin
Sean O'Loughlin

SEAN O’Loughlin spoke of his heartbreak as he and his Wigan team-mates tasted Grand Final defeat for the second year in a row.

The Warriors went down 22-20 to Leeds at Old Trafford in a classic of a Grand Final with the lead changing hands on a number of occasions.

We didn’t have the best start with the first half but we did a lot in the second half to put ourselves back into it

Sean O’Loughlin

But it wasn’t to be and Leeds pinched it with Josh Walters crossing in the latter stages of the came.

Wigan captain O’Loughlin couldn’t hide his disappointment after the game but believes there is a bright future for the young Warriors side.

“It’s gutting whenever you lose a final and this has been no different,” he said.

“We didn’t have the best start with the first half but we did a lot in the second half to put ourselves back into it and get our noses in front.

“Leeds are a quality side so we knew it was going to be a tough game, it went right down to the wire just like the league did.”

Wigan trailed 16-6 at the break but came out the blocks flying with Dom Manfredi and the retiring Matty Bowen adding to Joe Burgess’ opener, and putting Wigan in front.

But they couldn’t quite extend their lead, despite a continuing period of dominance.

“That’s hindsight isn’t it?” O’Loughlin sighed.

“We were in a good position at that point and commanded the game but that’s sport. Hindsight is an easy thing to look back on.

“We’ve done a lot of good things this year, we’ve pushed Leeds all the way in the league and pushed them all the way tonight.

“For a young squad - and a pretty inexperienced squad really - we’ve done a lot of good things this year.”

Gracious in defeat, O’Loughlin poured praise on the triumphant Rhinos.

The Super League title caps off a superb season for the Yorkshire outfit, adding to the Challenge Cup and League Leaders’ Shield as well as the team of the year award, coach of the year and man of steel for Zak Hardaker.

“It’s a massive achievement for them, it’s a phenomenal effort to do that,” said O’Loughlin.

“They had a bit of a slump after the Challenge Cup but, being the champion side they are, they bounced back and picked up the results when it mattered and got themselves here tonight.

“From our point of view we’ve picked up tonnes of experience this year and we’ve been in the final the last three years.

“We’ve only won one of those but the club is doing a lot of good things and getting itself in the right position but it’s now about getting over the line and winning finals.”