MICHAEL Maguire is still confident Wigan can defend their Super League title, despite finishing the season in second spot.
Their 42-10 victory against Crusaders last night was not enough for Wigan to finish the season top, due to Warrington’s 34-12 victory at Hull FC which earned the Wolves the league leaders’ shield.
And that has set up a derby against St Helens for the Warriors at the DW Stadium in the opening round of the play-offs next week.
Maguire said: “This group is really hungry. Credit to Warrington, they’ve been consistent all year, but finishing second is still a good position – it gives us a home finals game next week and we’re really looking forward to it.”
Crusaders held Wigan to 6-6 in the first quarter. But Josh Charnley and Ryan Hoffman put them in the driving seat before the break, and they turned the screw in the second-half, with Liam Farrell, Charnley again, Pat Richards and Joel Tomkins adding further tries.
Charnley’s double took his tally to 25 tries for the season, while opposite winger Richards finished the game with a personal haul of 18 points from a try and seven goals from as many attempts.
Maguire added: “We were a bit dusty at the start but there were other patches when we really showed our form.” He said Thomas Leuluai left the action with a dead-leg, and reported no other injury problems.
A crowd of 19,000 ensured Wigan finish with their highest average home attendance since records began, beating the previous best of 16,040 set four years ago.
Crusaders coach Iestyn Harris is expected to become Shaun Wane’s assistant at the Warriors next season.
“I’m sure it won’t be long before things happen,” said Harris. “But I’m pretty confident, and excited, about what the future holds for me.”
Crusaders players Gareth Thomas – who didn’t play last night – and Ben Flower have also been linked with moves to the DW next season, following the Welsh club’s exit from the top-flight.