Wakefield 32 Wigan 0
Wigan were nilled for the first time this year as they brought the curtain down on a turbulent campaign with a dismal display.
Shaun Wane had asked his troops to play for pride and give the fans something to smile about in their last outing of 2017.
But it was a miserable performance lacking spirit and spark which will only add to the frustrations of a league campaign which saw them finish outside the play-offs for the first time in a decade.
In a year which peaked with a World Club Challenge victory and included a return to Wembley, their sixth-placed finish reflected their struggles over the 30-round league campaign.
This defeat maintained their 100 per cent losing Super League run in games when Sean O’Loughlin hasn’t figured - eight matches in total - though it’s doubtful the England skipper’s presence would have changed the outcome. Wigan were out-played across the board.
Their late-season improvements, having won eight from 10 league matches, had raised hopes of a fifth successive Grand Final charge.
But a disappointing defeat to Castleford a week ago had proved a body-blow to their top-four hopes - and Hull’s victory against the Tigers last night delivered the strike which knocked them to the canvas.
Only a 90-point winning margin would secure them a play-offs spot, a scenario not even the wildly optimistic fans could envisage.
This was the first time in a decade Wigan’s last game of the season had been ‘dead rubber’, and it showed in their performance; they were flat from the start and, though they improved before the break, trailed 12-0 at half-time.
Sean O’Loughlin was the only current player in the side back in 2006, but he missed out today after failing to return from a calf strain.
Joe Burgess, who tore his hamstring a week ago, also dropped out and in the reshuffle - which saw Oliver Gildart move to the wing and John Bateman drop to the centre - a bench spot opened up for prop Joe Bretherton to play his first match since May.
Sam Tomkins again led the side out and, after one tackle, was called over by referee Robert Hicks after a stand-off between Micky McIlorum and Craig Huby.
Tony Clubb stood up to the challenge posed by Trinity’s big pack; their willingess to offload created several early half-chances, and David Fifita fumbled over the line.
Wigan were reduced to 12-men in the 15th minute when Joel Tomkins was sinbinned for dangerous ‘chicken wing’ tackle on Fifita in the tackle.
Wakefield quickly capitalised on their extra man advantage, a looping pass to the right allowing Ben Jones-Bishop to cross for his 20th Super League try of the year. Liam Finn masterfully added the sideline conversion to give them a 6-0 lead.
The visitors continued to drop an alarming amount of ball, allowing the visitors to double their advantage moments later when Jacob Miller leapt to collect Finn’s chip, the latter adding the extras from in front.
Wigan improved in the last 10 minutes of the opening half, managing to work their way into Trinity territory and force repeat sets. But when they went to pull the trigger, their attacks weren’t crisply executed, and the home side twice disrupted the attacks by getting a hand to the final passes.
A brighter start to the second-half saw Ryan Sutton spill over the line. They forced errors from the home side, but when Liam Farrell was penalised for lashing out at Danny Kirmond, their line was again tested.
Wigan defended reasonably well but their attack continued to cough and splutter, and George Williams’ break provided a rare spark. But they continued to inflict harm to themselves, spilling ball from the resulting set which let Wakefield off the hook - and then a penalty later in the set, for interference, allowed Hood to open up a 14-point gap.
Sam Williams’ raking 40-20 provided the position for him to squirm over from dummy-half for a try and, with Finn maintaining his radar with the boot, Trinity led by 20 points with as many minutes to go.
Anthony Gelling thought he had given his side hope when he powered over, but a try was chalked off by the video referee - frustratingly, there was no big-screen replay for the fans - with 16 minutes to go. Scott Grix added salt into Wigan’s gaping wounds with a 67th minute converted try which stretched their lead to 26-0.
Tomkins took the sting out of Fifita’s surging midfield charge but they still found themselves on the ropes and, before the full-time siren, Keegan Hirst crossed.
Wakefield: Grix; Jones-Bishop, Arundel, Tupou, Caton-Brown; Miller, Finn; England, Wood, Huby, Ashurst, Kirmond, Arona. Subs: Williams, Hadley, Hirst, Fifita.
Wigan: S Tomkins; Davies, Gelling, Bateman, Gildart; Williams, Leuluai; Nuuausala, McIlorum, Clubb, Isa, Farrell, J Tomkins. Subs: Bretherton, Sutton, Powell, Tautai.
Referee: Robert Hicks.