Wakefield 32-0 Wigan: Warriors' title defence ends
Last Updated: 24/09/17 2:19pm
Wigan's Super League title defence was finally ended on a huge anti-climax as they crashed 32-0 to the season's surprise package Wakefield in the final Super 8s match.
The 2016 champions went into the game needing an unlikely 90-point victory margin to pip St Helens to a semi-final spot, but produced an uninspiring performance to be nilled for the first time this season.
Trinity's second win of the year over the Warriors enabled them to leapfrog their visitors in the final table and condemn Shaun Wane's men to a sixth-place finish, their worst since 2009.
Wakefield threatened to claim a semi-final place of their own for much of the season and, although narrow late-season losses proved costly, a fifth-place finish is a highly-creditable achievement for Chris Chester, who was chosen by Wigan boss Shaun Wane as his pick for Super League coach of the year.
The victory rounded off a good week for Wakefield after the local council unveiled plans to build a new stadium which will enable the club to stay at Belle Vue.
With the top four effectively beyond them, Wane opted not to risk England skipper Sean O'Loughlin's calf injury and they once more sorely missed their talismanic loose forward.
Wigan, in fact, have lost all eight league matches that O'Loughlin has missed in 2017, but this performance underlined a steady decline since the euphoria of their World Club Challenge triumph in February.
Wakefield suffered an early blow when prop Anthony England was forced off after only two minutes with a head knock, but they were full of energy from the start and scored two tries inside the first quarter.
Rugby League straight to your phone
How to receive all the latest Rugby League news straight to your mobile
They took advantage of the 17th-minute sin-binning of Wigan second rower Joel Tomkins for a dangerous tackle on England's replacement David Fifita when right winger Ben Jones-Bishop got on the end of Liam Finn's long, looping pass to grab his 20th try of the campaign.
The visitors were still down to 12 men when Trinity stand-off Jacob Miller leapt high into the air to re-gather possession from Finn's accurate kick and score his side's second try, which Finn again converted.
The Warriors were more competitive on Joel Tomkins' return, but lacked the creativity to trouble Wakefield's defence, with acting skipper Sam Tomkins going closest in the first half when he stretched out for the line only to ground the ball just short.
It was largely stalemate for the next 40 minutes, but Wakefield produced a late rally to finish on a high.
Finn nudged his side further ahead with a penalty before substitute Sam Williams marked his final appearance with an opportunist try from dummy half, after first creating the position with a 40-20 kick.
Wigan centre Anthony Gelling then had a try disallowed for obstruction before Wakefield full-back Scott Grix supported a break by Jones-Bishop to go over for his side's fourth try and Williams created a first try for the club for prop Keegan Hirst, with Finn taking his goal tally to six from as many attempts.