WIGAN Warriors are going to the Grand Final!
The Warriors put in a superb performance to beat Leeds Rhinos at the DW Stadium.
Shaun Wane’s men were incredible for the full 80 minutes. Professional in the first half and ruthless in the second.
It means Wigan will now play their second final of the season next week when they play Warrington Wolves at Old Trafford.
Cagey yet entertaining is perhaps the best way to describe the first half.
The defence from both sides was outstanding with brutal hits so common they almost made regular tackles look like tag rugby.
It was Wigan who took the lead after seven minutes. After building pressure over the line, quick hands saw the ball played into Pat Richards.
The departing winger could see the line but selflessly played it back inside to Iain Thornley who went over to send the crowd into raptures.
The rest of the first half was reserved and nervy.
Neither side wanted to make a costly error and the completion rate benefitted as a result.
It opened up after one mad minute, though.
Wigan enjoyed some dangerous possession and looked likely to score before Harrison Hansen dropped it and gifted Ryan Hall a 60-metre run, with Warriors players eventually bringing him down after some considerable effort.
Things started to pick up further. Leeds pressed the Wigan line before Richards sneaked in with a smart intercept to run 80 yards.
However, the Irish international was brought to ground by Ian Kirke, who tracked back superbly to make a wonder tackle and the scoreline stayed at 6-0 for half-time.
The Rhinos came out the blocks flying n the second half and after Carl Ablett skipped passed Harrison Hansen on halfway, he ran 35 metres before finding the supporting Joel Moon who touched down to set up an easy conversion for Kevin Sinfield.
With the scoreline at 6-6, the next few minutes were frenetic.
Neither side wanted to make the error which gifted a vital try but at the same time wanted to push so much, with superb kicking from Sinfield and Matty Smith dictating play.
And it was Wigan who scored the third, precious score which proved to be the crucial one.
Leeds just couldn’t hold the pressure on their own line and a smart delayed pass from Blake Green sent Liam Farrell crashing over. Richards’ conversion took the score to 12-6.
This try shook the Rhinos and they buckled again a few minutes later.
Kallum Watkins knocked on to give Wigan a scrum 30 metres out and the Warriors weren’t going to let this chance pass them by. Up popped Darrell Goulding to pick up a loose ball after Ablett fumbled Smith’s kick.
The Wigan centre took great delight in touching down in front of an ecstatic South Stand.
The Warriors weren’t at Old Trafford just yet though and Leeds went about reminding them off that.
Hansen was perhaps the man to blame for the Rhinos’ try but he put in a mammoth effort to track back and punch the ball out of Moon’s hands as he was about to touch down, a la Charnley in the Challenge Cup final.
And it was Super League’s top tryscorer himself who sealed the game.
Smith, who had just failed with a drop-goal attempt, danced his way through the Leeds defence and as he was being brought down, managed to get it out to Charnley via Goulding.
The winger gave a beaming smile as he scored the try which confirmed Wigan’s second final in a year.
It was Leeds who had the final say with Liam Sutcliffe going underneath the sticks but the game was already gone.
Wigan were already on their way to Old Trafford.