Phil Wilkinson looks at five talking points from Wigan’s 32-0 defeat in their last match of 2017.
1. Wigan played like a pre-season friendly.
And that was Shaun Wane’s assessment of their dismal display on the final day.
Both sides knew it was their last outing of the year, and Wigan just could not get themselves energised for it; they were flat from the start. A victory, and a sparkling performance, would have at least ensured they finished the season on a high-note. It was a miserable way to finish the year.
2. Consider this: The last time Wigan weren’t involved in the play-offs, Oliver Gildart had just started high school!
For the past decade, their last game of the season has always been ‘must-win’. But Wane had said all season they would get what they deserved, and few - if any - would argue they are unlucky to miss out on the top-four.
The significance of their World Club Challenge victory carries a lot of weight, and reaching Wembley was great, but their league campaign has been rocky and their inability to string good form, and wins, together ultimately cost them.
3. The game was dead-rubber, but there were 25,000 reasons why the clubs wanted to win.
Finishing fifth meant Wakefield got an extra £25,000 prize money than Wigan, who lost £600,000 last year but have predicted a much brighter outcome from the 2017 campaign.
The last time Wigan finished sixth was under Brian Noble in 2009.
4. Credit Wakefield.
They have enjoyed a wonderful season, they play an attractive style and, on Saturday, they showed how ‘playing for pride’ should be done.
They only led 12-0 at half-time but they managed Wigan’s brief resurgence well, and finished with a flourish - the second time in three visits to Belle Vue Wigan had been nilled, and the first time this year.
5. There was a tragic post-script to Saturday’s televised match.
An ambulance was on the pitch shortly after the full-time whistle and it emerged a supporter had fallen ill. John Metcalfe, a lifelong Trinity fan, later died.
Michael Carter, the Wakefield chairman - who stayed with the paramedics until they departed - took to Twitter to say he was “devastated” about the news, which put the outcome of the match into sobering perspective.