O'Loughlin: We'll lick our wounds and respond
Wigan captain Sean O'Loughlin says his side will be ready to bounce back against St Helens once they have licked their wounds from their agonising Challenge Cup final defeat.
The Warriors fell just short in their bid for a record-extending 20th triumph, losing 18-14 to holders Hull in a nail-biting finish at Wembley, and must quickly pick themselves up as they seek to keep alive their hopes of retaining their Super League title.
Wigan are level with St Helens but with an inferior points difference, and a point behind fourth-placed Wakefield with just three rounds left of the Super 8s, and O’Loughlin knows they cannot afford to lose their derby clash with Saints on Friday.
“We’ll go away from this and lick our wounds but we’re still in a good position to have a crack at the remaining league games and put ourselves in a position for the final,” O’Loughlin said.
“We’ve not got our hands on silverware today so our only opportunity now is to win the rest of the games.”
O’Loughlin’s England team-mate Liam Farrell has revealed that coach Shaun Wane began turning his thoughts to Friday’s crunch league game within minutes of the final whistle on Saturday.
“It’s already been spoken about,” Farrell said. “We got back into the changing rooms and it was probably the first words out of Waney’s mouth.
“We have a couple of days of rest and recovery and then it’s on to St Helens. We have to go there and keep alive our hopes of getting in the top four.
“It’s a must-win game, just like this one was. Saints are in pretty good form. You saw what they did to Castleford so we know what we’ve got in front of us.
“But if this team plays like they have done today in patches, then we give ourselves a shot.”
An early John Bateman try had given Wigan the perfect start and, after watching Hull build up an 18-10 lead, they struck back in a rousing finish.
Winger Joe Burgess went over eight minutes from the end to cut the deficit to just four points and crossed again in the final minute, only for referee Phil Bentham to disallow the effort for a forward pass.
“I honestly thought he had scored in the corner but it was too good to be true,” Farrell said.
“We just weren’t good enough on the day. Hull deserved it because they were more clinical. They played smart at the back end of the game. They kept themselves in control and played the ball on the front foot.
“It seemed like we spent a lot of time on our own line and when you do that you burn yourselves of energy.”