Warrington Wolves face Wigan Warriors in this weekend’s Super League Grand Final at Old Trafford. The two sides reached the final with comfortable semi-final wins. The Wolves beat St Helens last week, 18 – 10, whilst the Warriors despatched Hull FC 28 – 18 reach their fourth successive Grand Final. Wigan’s win wasn’t without controversy though as Hull’s Dominque Peyroux wrongly having a try ruled out.
It’s a repeat of the 2013 final when having stormed into a 16 – 2 lead, Warrington were overrun by Wigan in the second half. Four tries, added to Darrell Goulding’s late effort in the first half, gave the Warriors a 30 – 16 victory. Since then, Wigan have lost consecutive finals to St Helens and Leeds.
For Warrington, it’s a case of what might have been. A narrow 10 – 12 defeat in the Challenge Cup final in August has deprived them of the chance of a first double since 1954 – 55.
The Wolves completed a comfortable double over Wigan this season, winning 28 – 16 at the DW Stadium and 40 – 10 in the return home fixture on their way to confirming second place in the table before it was frozen for the Super 8s.
Wigan extracted some revenge in the Super 8s with a 35 – 28 win at the Halliwell Jones Stadium, coming from 28 – 14 down to win the match with a Matty Smith drop goal and Anthony Gelling try in the final minutes.
It was a rare lapse from the Wolves whose defensive stats have been impressive this season, conceding just 17 points per game on average. Wigan are strong in this department as well, giving their opponents 18 points per game. However, Warrington’s attack has been far more destructive, scoring a massive 28 points to Wigan’s average of 22.
Ryan Atkins and Ben Currie were particularly potent, both scoring seventeen tries each. Chris Sandow, despite missing recent weeks through a knee injury, finished second with 25 try assists. The half-back has a fitness test to see if he will make it for this weekend’s match.
There will be a battle of the boots with Warrington’s Kurt Gidley and Wigan’s Matty Smith. Both were in the top ten points scorers this season – 174 and 133 respectively – and it promises to be one of the key factors in deciding the outcome. An off-day for either may prove costly.
Gidley, 34, along with Wolves team-mates Atkins, Currie and Chris Hill, and Wigan’s Dom Manfredi, made the Super League Team of the Season. The former Newcastle Knights five-eighths has been excellent all season and recently signed a new one-year deal to keep him at Warrington until the end of the 2017 season.
Wigan’s last silverware was the 2013 win and they will be looking to put that record straight in front of the expected 70,000 crowd in Manchester. The Wolves are favourites and have been the more impressive team over the course of the season. However, nerves will be a factor but with their experience, they should overcome their fierce local rivals.
Warrington Wolves – 10/11
Draw – 17/1
Wigan Warriors – 21/20