JOE Burgess scored a late try to seal a 16-12 win for Wigan over Warrington at the DW Stadium and send the Warriors to their second successive Grand Final.
The champions will face the old enemy St Helens at Old Trafford next week as they look to defend their title, after winning one of the games of the season.
Warrington put up one hell of a fight throughout the play-off semi-final with the game always on a knife edge.
The scores were level with two minutes to go after both sides failed to convert five drop goals between them at 12-12.
But with the clock ticking down, young Burgess crossed in the corner to send the home fans into raptures.
Wigan mounted the pressure from minute one but the only points they could find in the first 24 minutes were from the boot of Matty Smith after winning a penalty.
Despite their dominance and numerous back-to-back sets though, the Warriors struggled to break down a resilient Wolves defence.
Then, straight from Warrington’s first attack, Blake Green broke the line and ran 40 metres before passing to Joel Tomkins who glided over with Smith adding the extras.
Warrington fired back immediately though. Brutal hits became more frequent as the intensity and physicality levels both rose, and as the clock ticked down to half-time the visitors clawed their way back into the game.
One of the more bizarre tries of the season saw Michael Monaghan’s pass find his brother Joel in the corner via the head of James Laithwaite.
Stefan Ratchford then missed the conversion attempt before Wigan looked to hit straight back with a try of their own through Josh Charnley’s first real involvement.
He was denied by the video referee though with the ball not grounded properly and the two sides trotted in for half-time with the scores at 8-4 and the game wide open.
Just like Wigan did in the first half, Warrington came out after the break flying with the hosts conceding too many penalties in their own half.
With 46 minutes on the clock, Gareth O’Brien chased his own kick and when Matty Bowen allowed it to bounce, the half-back sneaked in to score and convert his own try.
With a riled up Shaun Wane looking on, Wigan knew they had to come up with something quick and almost regained the lead but Bowen spilled the ball as he looked to go over.
It wasn’t long until they were back in front though when with 55 minutes on the clock Burgess stormed down the left to put Wigan in a great position on the last tackle. Rather than go for the kick though, some great hands saw the ball reach Anthony Gelling who touched down.
Smith couldn’t add the extras and the Warriors held a narrow 12-10 lead for 10 minutes before Liam Farrell held down in the tackle for too long and Ratchford levelled with a penalty.
Both sides failed with several drop-goal attempts, Wigan with three from Smith and Warrington through O’Brien and Myler.
With the clock ticking down, Wigan thought they had won it as Gelling broke down field and played in Dan Sarginson to touche down but referee Phil Bentham gave a forward pass.
Wigan were allowed to go again though after he spotted an infringement in the build up and down they came. Quick hands and a superb final ball from captain fantastic Sean O’Loughlin sent Burgess over in the corner to win the game in dramatic fashion.
Wigan: Bowen, Charnley, Gelling, Sarginson, Burgess, Green, Smith, Flower, McIlorum, Crosby, Tomkins, Farrell, O’Loughlin
Interchanges: Powell, Pettybourne, Clubb, Bateman
Warrington: Ratchford, J Monaghan, Bridge, Atkins, Evans, O’Brien, Myler, Hill, M Monaghan, England, Laithwaite, Waterhouse, Harrison
Interchanges: Higham, Asotasi, Currie, Russell