Wigan Warriors 14 Castleford Tigers 0

And the dream is still alive!

Friday, 5th October 2018, 10:07 pm
Updated Saturday, 6th October 2018, 10:09 am
Wigan Warriors coach Shaun Wane is on his way to Old Trafford again

Wigan swept through to the Grand Final with a dominant display in an error-littered semi-final.

Sam Tomkins contributed 10 of their points with a try, two goals and two drop-goals to add to Thomas Leuluai's breakthrough touchdown.

But it was the ferocity and energy of their defence which under-pinned an impressive performance.

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And so Shaun Wane's reign as Wigan's fifth longest-serving coach will come to at end at Old Trafford - at the fifth Grand Final of his seven-year watch.

And, just like his two championship victories, they will again meet Warrington Wolves, following their tense 18-13 win at league leaders St Helens the previous night.

It gives John Bateman, Tomkins and Ryan Sutton a chance to depart the way they wanted - with another trophy for the collection.

In front of 13,461 fans at the DW Stadium, they were certainly deserved victors.

They frequently choked Tigers of quick play-the-balls, snuffed out the few chances they created and harassed them into making a catalogue of errors.

Wigan had heroes throughout the line-up, from Leuluai to Dom Manfredi, Oliver Gildart to John Bateman; ultimately it was their desire to work for each other which saw them home.

NRL-bound Bateman took the microphone after the game to thank fans for their support.

He said: "You've been fantastic since I've been here, and we've got one more to go - let's get that, eh?"

With the stakes so high - and 4,000 travelling fans in the south stand - the volume inside the DW was turned up from the off, creating a cauldron atmosphere.

Wigan started the more composed and had the best early chance when Joe Greenwood was held up over the line in the eighth minute.

That set finished with a high shot on Manfredi by Luke Gale which ignited a melee. Once that settled, Leuluai marked his 250th Wigan appearance by burrowing between two defenders to touch down. Tomkins tagged on the extras.

That was the only try of the first half but there were other highlights, not least the sight of Ben Flower's surging break from deep inside his own half.

Castleford made too many errors and when they did get into a solid position, their last play options caused the hosts few problems.

Wigan elected to kick for goal late in the half, but Tomkins' strike from 43 metres out was off-target. Sutton seemed panicky early into his last home appearance, but they managed the rest of the half well, and Tomkins added a drop-goal with seconds before the siren and then - soon after the game resumed - extended their advantage.

On the ground where he announced himself with a five-try debut, he darted through a splintered defence and slid over in the corner for his final home try as a Wigan player.

He missed the sideline conversion but, at 11-0 and half-an-hour to play, they looked comfortably in control.

Wigan had leaked an average of less than two tries in their previous six matches and Cas' didn't look like they were going to better that. Adam Milner prised them open down the middle to put them into good position and raise their hopes - only for Joe Wardle to later blow a chance with a forward pass.

Their desire to shut down Castleford's chances was staggering and - when they were awarded a penalty within range - Tomkins opened up a three-score lead.

Gildart thought he had sealed victory when he raced away with 13 minutes to go, only to be correctly called back by busy referee Ben Thaler, before Tomkins added a late drop-goal .

WIGAN: Tomkins; Manfredi, Gildart, Sarginson, Davies; Williams, Leuluai; Navarrete, Powell, Flower, Greenwood, Bateman, O'Loughlin. Subs: Escare, Sutton, Clubb, Farrell

CASTLEFORD: Mata'utia-Feife; Clare, Wardle, Shenton, Eden; Roberts, Gale; Watts, McShane, Millington, Holmes, McMeeken, Massey. Subs: Webster, Milner, Sene-Lefao, Clark.

Referee: Ben Thaler

Half-time: 7-0

Attendance: 13,461

Star man: Thomas Leuluai