Shaun Wane said he had never seen his players as upset as they were after the final whistle in last night’s Challenge Cup semi-final loss to Hull FC.
The Airlie Birds ended Wigan’s hopes of lifting the sport’s oldest trophy for a record-extending 20th time with a 16-12 win at Doncaster’s Keepmoat Stadium.
And despite being proud of the efforts of his side, missing seven first-choice stars, he admitted the loss is hard to take.
“I’ve never seen them as hurt as what they are now - as upset,” said the coach.
“They are absolutely devastated. But they knew exactly what I was going to say.”
After leading 6-2 at the break, second-half tries from Steve Michaels and Fetuli Talanoa, supplemented by a kicking masterclass from Mark Sneyd, were enough to ensure Wigan’s record-equalling 46th semi-final ended in defeat.
And Wane admitted his side didn’t help themselves as the coach said their attack let them down once again this season.
“There were some real key times we didn’t make the right decision with the ball and that cost us in the end,” he said.
“You just can’t turn the ball over against a team as good as Hull on play one and play two.
“We were gassed (after defending so much) and then when we got the ball we just couldn’t find that spark.
“I’m very proud of our efforts but we did that much defending, turned the ball over early again. I thought we would fix it at half-time but we didn’t.
“When we got the ball we weren’t really crisp in our attack again but the effort and the toughness we showed in that game was outstanding.”
George Williams opened Wigan’s account and Matty Smith nudged Warriors further ahead with a penalty after the break.
But despite another strong defensive display, in which Wigan absorbed most of what Hull threw at them, they couldn’t find enough to snatch back the lead once it had gone, even after a late try from Willie Isa.
And Wane’s frustration stemmed from his opinion the effort his players put in should have been enough to win the game.
“We just weren’t consistent enough,” he explained.
“With that effort I think we could have still won the game and that would have been memorable for us.”
Wane now has to pick his side up in time for their assault on the Super 8s, where the aim will be to secure a top four finish and a play-off spot, though the Wigan coach will want to win the League Leaders’ Shield.
Wakefield travel to the DW Stadium this coming Friday, and the Wigan coach hopes his players can use the hurt from their Cup loss as motivation for the rest of their campaign.
“We’ll use that as a real strength to come back and make sure that doesn’t happen against Wakefield because we have a few of those tough games coming up now,” he said.
“We’ve no complaints. That was us against us and we were our own downfall.”