Wigan 28-18 Hull FC: Warriors to face Warrington in Grand Final
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 01/10/16 10:57am
Wigan are through to their fourth successive Grand Final after an epic 28-18 semi-final victory over Hull FC.
Hull produced an extraordinary climax to a memorable fightback, coming from 14-0 down to lead 18-16 with a Steve Michaels try sensationally awarded at one end after Wigan - and referee Robert Hicks - thought they had scored at the other.
The remarkable score counted for little in the end, however, as the Warriors stormed back to score two tries in the last 10 minutes and clinch a win that sets up an Old Trafford clash with Warrington next Saturday.
That is a repeat of the 2013 final, which Wigan won 30-16.
Defeat signalled the end of his career for Hull's long-serving centre Kirk Yeaman but Wigan duo Dan Sarginson and Josh Charnley will get the chance to play their final matches for the club on the big stage.
Wigan, who will have Wales international Ben Flower back from suspension for the final, were without skipper Sean O'Loughlin and vice-captain Sam Tomkins but Hull were dealt a double pre-match blow with the withdrawal of captain Gareth Ellis and fellow back rower Sika Manu through injury.
And the Black and Whites sorely missed their inspirational leader in a first half in which Wigan showed are more energy and passion to establish what appeared to be a vice-like grip on the game.
The early signs were ominous for the visitors with Frank Pritchard and Liam Watts both losing the ball in the tackle deep inside their own half to present their opponents with the perfect attacking position and they needed no second invitation.
Winger Lewis Tierney demonstrated exceptional footwork after taking Sarginson's cut-out pass to finish superbly for his first try on seven minutes and had a far easier task six minutes later after accepting Liam Farrell's slick pass to add a second.
VOTE: Stevo's top Super League player
Stevo has picked his favourite Super League players from the last 20 years but who will be No 1?
Matty Smith was unable to convert either effort and Wigan had to wait until the last minute of the first half to add to their score.
Smith's attempted drop goal was charged down and fell into the grateful arms of John Bateman, who spotted a gap in the Hull defence and went for it, sliding over on the wet surface for the last three metres.
This time Smith added the goal to make it 14-0 and there seemed no way back for the Challenge Cup winners.
However, Lee Radford's men were rejuvenated by the break and stormed back to give themselves renewed hope with the aid of two tries in the first 10 minutes of the second half.
Substitute prop Josh Bowden supported a break by Danny Washbrook to crash over for the first and fellow front-rower Watts charged onto Danny Houghton's short pass for the second.
Marc Sneyd added both conversions to cut the deficit to just two points but Smith put over a penalty on 54 minutes after he was obstructed chasing his own grubber kick.
And then came the most dramatic incident imaginable. Tierney fumbled Jamie Shaul's grubber kick short of his own line and Michaels stretched out a hand to get a touch as it rolled over the line.
Referee Hicks appeared to rule the Hull winger did not have control of the ball and followed play upfield as Gildart raced away to touch down at the other end.
After what appeared to be an eternity and countless replays, Thaler eventually awarded the try to Michaels, forcing Hicks to sprint 100 metres to point to the spot, and Sneyd's touchline conversion put Hull in front for the first time.
The score will remain forever in rugby league folklore but it was soon to become an irrelevance as hooker Sam Powell scooted over for a fourth try on 70 minutes after Wigan kept the ball alive on the last tackle.
Smith's third goal made it 22-18 but the drama continued, with Hull centre Mahe Fonua hauled down inches short of the line before centre Anthony Gelling tore through a tiring visitors' defence for the clinching try two minutes from the end.