MX23RW : Thursday, December 13 21:00:45

Wigan and Wane heading to Old Trafford once again

Castleford beaten in Lancashire.

Wigan produced all the defensive qualities instilled in them by outgoing coach Shaun Wane to clinch a 10th Super League Grand Final appearance.

A 14-0 semi-final win over a disappointing Castleford ensured a fitting finale for their long-serving coach, as well as departing players Sam Tomkins, John Bateman and Ryan Sutton, who will all bring their Wigan careers to a close against Warrington in next Saturday’s Grand Final.

It will be a repeat of the 2016 title decider which Wigan won 12-6 and Wane’s men will head for Old Trafford with plenty of belief and all the momentum following a ninth successive win.

Castleford sorely missed the creativity of injured stand-off Jake Trueman, with Luke Gale well below the form that won him the Man of Steel trophy this time last year, as last year’s beaten finalists once more failed to rise to the big occasion.

It was all Wigan for most of the opening quarter and Castleford might have been relieved to still have 13 men on the field after Warriors winger Dominic Manfredi was the victim of high tackles from Grant Millington and Gale inside the first 10 minutes.

Second rower Joe Greenwood, fresh from his call-up by England, was held up over the line but there was no stopping scrum-half Thomas Leuluai when he burrowed his way over for the opening try on his 250th appearance for Wigan.

Tomkins added the conversion and, after failing with a long-range penalty, slotted a drop goal a minute before half-time to complete the scoring in an error-strewn first half.

The home side ought to have been further ahead by the break and might have been had they made more of a superb break by prop Ben Flower, who showed a nice turn of pace and kept his footing on the greasy surface to romp 40 metres through the heart of the Tigers defence.

Castleford, urged on by a vociferous following of 4,500 fans, had their moments, particularly through skipper Michael Shenton who went close to the corner and hooker Paul McShane, who lost his grip on the slippery ball as he attempted to dive over the line.

Although it did not show on the scoreboard, Wigan were in such control they could give skipper Sean O’Loughlin a 30-minute rest in the middle of the game and they duly extended their lead early in the second half when Tomkins got on the outside of Gale and used the greasy turf to slide over at the corner.

Tomkins’ failure to add the conversion kept Castleford in the game and full-back Peter Mata’utia did his best to inject life into their lethargic attack but they lacked composure at the crucial times and Wigan’s gritty defence did the rest.

The Tigers’ last chance to make a contest of it disappeared when free-scoring winger Greg Eden was bundled into touch by a trio of Wigan defenders as he got a rare sight of the line.

A couple of darting runs from Warriors stand-off George Williams took play upfield and, when Castleford substitute Adam Milner was penalised at the ruck, Tomkins put his side two scores in front with a 65th-minute penalty.

Tomkins then fittingly wrapped up the scoring in the final minute with his second drop goal.


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