Super League: Wigan Warriors rally to beat Warrington Wolves
Wigan rallied from a 16-6 half-time deficit to defeat Warrington 30-16 in the Super League Grand Final at Old Trafford.
By Rob Lancaster
Last Updated: 06/10/13 12:58am
The Wolves looked set to make amends for their loss to Leeds 12 months ago and claim their first league title since 1955 when they scored three tries in six minutes to open up a healthy 16-2 lead.
However, the Warriors showed real fighting spirit to recover. Darrell Goulding cut the interval deficit to eight before they crossed a further four times in a surprisingly one-sided second half.
Pat Richards put the icing on the cake by waltzing over the line in the closing minutes, meaning the winger marked his final appearance for the club with a try and five goals.
It was also a fitting finale for Sam Tomkins, as he heads off to the NRL having helped Wigan become the first club since arch-rivals St Helens in 2006 to lift both the Super League title and the Challenge Cup in the same season.
Warrington will look back on the costly injuries to Joel Monaghan and Stefan Ratchford during a bruising battle, the latter after a hit from Harrison Hansen that left Wolves coach Tony Smith fuming in the stands.
Wigan too had their casualties - Blake Green overcame a nasty eye injury, sustained when he was caught by a right hand from Ben Westwood that was only placed on report by referee Richard Silverwood, to win the Harry Sunderland Trophy as man of the match.
They held the upper hand for the first quarter but only had two points, kicked by Richards, to show for their dominance. They probed consistently down the right flank, only for Goulding and Josh Charnley to fail to capitalise on the chances that came their way.
The Wolves, in contrast, were ruthless as soon they got within sight of the try-line.
Lee Briers' kick to the right corner was finished by Joel Monaghan, who knocked the ball ahead of Richards before catching it cleanly as he fell to the ground over the line. The winger's joy was short-lived, though, as he was stretchered off before half time after being knocked out.
However, it was Wigan who were feeling woozy after conceding next; Richards' re-start sailed out on the full and on the next set Simon Grix forced his way over.
When Briers' pass, just as all those in Cherry and White had charged at him expecting a kick, put in Westwood for a try that will long be debated, not for the legality of it but for the fact he was still on the pitch to score in the first place, Warrington had opened up some clear daylight.
And even though Goulding's try gave Wigan some hope at the break, the fact only two sides had ever come back when trailing at the midway point in 15 previous Grand Finals suggested it was still a long shot.
Yet once Michael McIllorum crossed in the 48th minute the outcome never seemed in doubt. With Ratchford off, Warrington were forced into a back-line reshuffle and stand-in full-back Chris Riley was caught out by a Goulding grubber that Charnley nipped in to claim.
Richards' conversion put the Warriors into a lead for the first since the 12th minute, only this time the wounded Wolves had no way of responding.
Charnley dropped the ball with the line at his mercy but Green - almost unable to see out of his right eye - made no mistake from McIlorum's short pass. Richards rounded out the scoring with Wigan's fifth and final try, capping a stunning comeback and a sensational season for the men from the DW Stadium.