Wigan Warriors 19 Huddersfield Giants 6: Adrian Lam's side secure trophy

Adrian Lam claimed his first silverware as Wigan coach as his side battled to a victory which clinched the league leaders shield.

Friday, 6th November 2020, 9:39 pm
Updated Friday, 6th November 2020, 9:42 pm
Oliver Gildart looks to break through the Huddersfield line

It was the first time in eight years the club has finished the season in the No.1 spot, since Shaun Wane's debut campaign in charge.

And finishing top has earned them a week off in the opening round of the play-offs - and a home semi-final the following weekend.

Had Wigan lost, they would have finished the regular campaign in third and St Helens would have won the shield.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

And the game was in the balance for an hour as the sides were locked 6-6, until Jackson Hastings scored one try and created another in quick succession to put them in control.

The halfback added a drop-goal to add the crowning glory.

It wasn't the most polished of displays from Lam's side, wasting three or four chances close to the line which - on another day - they would have been expected to finish.

But in Thomas Leuluai's 300th game for the club, this was a game in which the only thing that mattered was the result - and they secured the all-important win.

Lam made just one change to the side which beat St Helens 18-6, bringing in marquee prop George Burgess for just his seventh match for the club as a replacement for suspended forward Joe Greenwood.

Huddersfield were coached by interim boss Luke Robinson, who was Lam's understudy as a player at Wigan in the early 2000s.

Wigan started well and took the lead in the fifth minute.

Sam Powell powered for the line and muscled over for a try which was given the green light by the video referee - despite doubts over whether he had grounded the ball. Zak Hardaker's goal made it 6-0.

Their goal-line defence received a thorough workout as they repelled successive sets before Jake Bibby - who maintained his right wing spot in the continued absence of Dom Manfredi to a knee injury - forced Louis Senior into touch.

Bibby himself was denied at the other end when he slipped with the line at his mercy.

And after Wigan wasted more good position, there was a fear their lack of a clinical edge may come back to bite them - which it did just before the break.

Sam Wood scooped up the ball and crossed after French spilled a high ball three minutes before half-time. Aidan Sezer, one of the frontrunners for the Steve Prescott Man of Steel, converted the goal to level the score.

The Warriors hadn't played poorly but in a contest of few chances, they needed more composure near to their opponents' line - and that trend continued in the 50th minute when Oliver Gildart lost the ball as he wrestled his way over.

But they were improving, they were dominating, and after forcing a repeat set, Hastings drove over from dummy-half to cross on the hour. Hardaker's conversion wedged a six point gap between the sides.

And then those two players combined moments later, Hastings stabbing a kick through the Giants line with Hardaker collected to cross. His goal made it 18-6 with 15 minutes to go.

With Wigan's forwards ramping it up, Hastings stepped up and guided them home, kicking a late drop-goal to open up a three score lead.

Wigan: French; Bibby, Hardaker, Gildart, J Burgess; Leuluai, Hastings; Bullock, Powell, Singleton, Isa, Farrell, Partington. Subs: Flower, Clubb, Smithies, G Burgess

Huddersfield: Golding; McGillvary, Wardley, Senior, Cudjoe; Russell, Sezer; Lawrence, Moore, Ta'ai, McQueen, Wardle, Turner. Subs: Wood, Trout, Michael, Gavet

Referee: Chris Kendall

Half-time: 6-6

Read unlimited Wigan Athletic and Wigan Warriors stories for less than 70p a week by subscribing to our sports package here