Full attention now on title defence

Wigan's Sean O'Loughlin makes a tackle in the game against Castleford Tigers
Wigan's Sean O'Loughlin makes a tackle in the game against Castleford Tigers
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SEAN O’Loughlin has vowed his Wigan Warriors will go full-tilt to retain their Super League crown as it is now their ‘sole focus’.

The captain, who has twice led Warriors to Challenge Cup glory at Wembley, couldn’t help keep the club on track to win the sport’s oldest competition for a record-extending 20th time when Castleford won their quarter-final clash 16-4 on Saturday.

An arm-wrestle tie was decided in the final moments when Tigers’ loose forward Lee Jewitt put his side out of sight with three minutes remaining. Kirk Dixon had previously edged Castleford a converted try in front with a score 11 minutes before time.

And even though Castleford return to the DW Stadium on Friday for a Super League clash which could see Wigan leapfrog the Tigers into third place, O’Loughlin says the quick chance to have another go at Daryl Powell’s men does not mean a chance to make amends for Saturday’s loss.

“We can’t really put it right because we’re out the Cup now but we get to come up against the same opposition,” O’Loughlin told the Evening Post.

“It won’t fix-up this game but it gives us an opportunity to try and fix what we didn’t do today and get back on track.

“We wanted to be in that Final and it’s really disappointing at the minute.”

Despite being within touching distance of their opponents for the majority of a gripping quarter-final played-out through heavy downpours, O’Loughlin admits Warriors only have themselves to blame for their first defeat at home in the Challenge Cup since 1986, which was coincidentally also to Castleford.

“We didn’t do enough to win the game,” he added.

“We came up against a really tough Cas side and they played the conditions better than us and they showed a bit more desire than we did to get over the line.

“It paid off for them.

“We knew how good a side Cas were. They beat us earlier in the season and we knew it was going to be a tough game but we felt like we could win.

“We played dumb at times and gave them too many opportunities.”