Smith: They departed from ‘The Wigan Way’

Wigan Warriors: 2016 Super League champions
Wigan Warriors: 2016 Super League champions

Warrington boss Tony Smith says a big factor in their Grand Final loss was Warriors moving away from playing ‘The Wigan Way’.

Second-half tries from Oliver Gildart and departing Josh Charnley helped Wigan overcome Warrington’s 6-2 half-time advantage, which came from a Declan Patton try.

And despite the low scoreline, the final was a showcase of pulsating, open rugby, though Wolves coach Smith thinks a different Wigan turned-up at Old Trafford.

“Credit to Wigan, their back end of the season was gritty and grafty and they are a bit more than what they were in the last couple of years,” he said.

“They’ve opened up, they play some more footy and ask more questions.”

Wigan, perhaps unfairly when their seemingly never-ending injury crisis this term is taken into consideration, have come under fire from some quarters this season for failing to play an expansive game.

For them to make some adjustments from the ‘Wigan Way’, it may have been the bit that got them across the line

Tony Smith

But Smith said there was no evidence of that tonight, which made for a better spectacle.

“It was when they got some of those second phases and offloads that they actually asked some questions and got down the park,” he said.

“They were good in that respect and I much prefer it.

“I’m not the coach there and I’m not telling the coach how to do it but because they’ve had a pretty good time themselves over the past few years. It’s not as much structure and it’s much more pleasurable to watch.

“It’s harder to coach against as well. So well done to them. For them to make some adjustments from the ‘Wigan Way’, it may have been the bit that got them across the line.”

Smith was left hurting at full-time after failing to get the Wolves the silverware they crave in a Grand Final.

Warrington are yet to win a Super League title, and many will have seen this as their best opportunity so far to end their wait.

Instead, they were left empty handed again, with their second final loss of 2016 after August’s Challenge Cup defeat to Hull FC.

“It wasn’t to be tonight,” said Smith.

“You like to get a few of them and sometimes you do, sometimes you don’t.

“I knew it was going to be a tight match throughout the week.

“I can’t question their effort or character,they are a good bunch and they worked hard for one another.”