Against the clock: How the Grand Final unfolded

Tom McCooey looks at how events unfolded against the clock on Saturday.
Warriors fansWarriors fans
Warriors fans

2pm: Pre-match nerves take over, so the journey to Old Trafford, after stopping for petrol, begins an hour earlier than planned.

2.55pm: Arrive at the Theatre of Dreams (no need for satnav anymore, there’s a feeling of familiarity about this journey.

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4.42pm: Warriors captain Sean O’Loughlin’s name is announced on the bench - a big moment in the press room where opinion is split. Is it too much of a gamble? What about young jake Shorrocks who loses his place in the side?

5.20pm: As the atmosphere builds nicely inside Old Trafford, horns going off and seats steadily filling up, Warriors come out to warm-up to a huge cheer from the stands.

5.25pm: Warrington come onto the pitch for their warm-up, but the boos from the Wigan fans drown out the cheers from where the press are sat.

5.38pm: Matty Smith is seen practising drop-goals. He obviously thinks the game could be tight.

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5.40pm: Craig Charles, of Red Dwarf and Coronation Street fame, comes onto the stage for his DJ set, but the fans’ singing still takes over.

5.44pm: The teams leave the pitch. Sean O’Loughlin, who pulled-up in the warm-up for the Super 8s clash with Catalans, looks to have come through and there will be no late changes.

5.48pm: Rock band Feeder come on stage and include their hit ‘Buck Rogers’ in their set.

5.55pm: Classical singer Laura Wright sings Jerusalem to the biggest cheer of the night so far. While the quality of her singing can’t be questioned, the music only makes pre-match nerves even worse!

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5.59pm: The heat from the fireworks can be felt from the stands as the teams walk out to a wall of noise. The Grand Final never fails to get the nerves going, and this year it’s no different.

6.02pm: The Warriors players break from their huddle as the Wolves team take their places for the kick-off. Tension isn’t eased when Smith kicks off.

6.10pm: Wigan are in front. Smith opts for the two after a penalty.

6.13pm: There’s a feeling of Wigan getting a grip on the game. Chris Hill knocks on a Smith takes advantage of the free play to kick a sweet 40/20.

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6.19pm: After a period of pressure the noise of seats clattering as fans stand up to cheer add to the atmosphere as Josh Charnley goes over. Referee Hicks says no try as Anthony Gelling’s pass was forward.

6.21pm: With 18 minutes gone Charnley drops a high ball in his own 20. Pressure.

6.22pm: Warriors are let off the hook as Ryan Atkins knocks-on.

6.24pm: Any sense of relief is short lived, Declan Patton dips his shoulder and goes over for the first try. Wolves are in front.

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6.28pm: Pressure on the Warriors is coming in waves now. Dan Sarginson lets a kick bounce and it comes off his chest 10m from his own line. Knock-on given.

18.29pm: Former Warrior Jack Hughes is over the line. But he’s held-up.

6.37pm: Atkins pinches the ball from John bateman and races the length of the field. The Wigan players catch him but there’s more drama. As play goes on at one end of the field, Hicks has awarded a penalty, to Wigan, at the other.

6.47pm: The last minute of the first half and Ryan Sutton had a great chance to go over.

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6.48pm: The half-time hooter sounds. Warriors are well in the game but at 6-2 behind are in a familiar position in a Grand Final.

7.05pm: Players from both sides return for the second half, fans are still in strong voice for what has been a great game, with an atmosphere to match, so far.

7.19pm: Chris Sandow comes into the action with 53 minutes gone and his first act it to kick it high. Charnley drops it on his own 20m line. Is this a tipping point?

7.21pm: Heads are in hands at the Wigan end. Atkins is over and despite going to the screen to on field call is try. There’s a feeling this won’t be Wigan’s night.

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7.23pm: NO TRY! Replays show Atkins has lost the ball. With the score at 6-2 this final can still go either way.

7.24pm: Huge moment for Wigan and Oliver Gildart. Liam Farrell’s break sets the centre up for the 100th try to be scored in a Grand Final. Old Trafford is being shaken to its foundations.

7.26pm: This could be a big moment as Smith misses the conversion, and the chance to put Wigan in front. The scores are locked at 6-6.

7.33pm: Cheers as if Wigan have scored a try erupt. Tom Lineham as knocked-on under a huge tackle from Farrell.

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7.34pm: When you thought the noise couldn’t go from 11 to 12, it does! Charnley pounces on a Dan Sarginson kick to put Wigan in front.

7.36pm: Smith misses the conversion. At four points in front, still no reason to relax.

7.44pm: Nine nerve-shredding minutes to go and there’s a big hold-up as Kurt Gidley swaps a blood-drenched shirt. It takes longer than it really needs to and gives the Wolves players a breather.

7.46pm: Penalty. Wigan given the advantage on Wolves’ line. Fans plead for two. Smith obliges. 12-6.

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7.49pm: There’s five minutes to go and Matty Russel lunges for the line. Fans watch with hands over their mouths, eyes, pints. A big effort bundles him into touch.

7.54pm: Two to go. Wigan six in front. Smith kicks out on the full tense.

7.54pm: Farrell, deservedly is named man-of-the-match, but the announcement does nothing to ease fears this might go into extra time.

7.55pm: Wolves are inches short. Wigan have it. All they have to do is hold on to the ball and they’ve done it. There’s a feeling everything might be okay.

7.57pm: The hooter. Wigan are champions!

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8.15pm: A lap of honour, hugging fans, the Wigan players lift the Super League Trophy for a fourth time.

9pm: Coaches talk to the press and journalists clatter at keyboards to meet deadlines. Shaun Wane calls the win his ‘best yet’ as Tony Smith insists his side are getting closer to breaking their Grand Final duck.

9.45pm: Players from each side speak to the media as staff turn Old Trafford back into a football stadium. Wigan players’ celebrations get into full swing.

10pm: Where is the car? After a night full of excitement and emotion, even in an empty car park it’s easy to forget where you’ve parked.