HERE we are again, picking over the bones of another major final defeat for Warrington Wolves.

On the past six occasions they have stepped out at either Wembley or Old Trafford, their players have ended the game slumped on the turf while their opponents taste glory each time.

The same questions will be asked and so they should be, but will this one take longer to get over than most?

Given the way Saturday night panned out, one suspects it might.

Looking at possession and territory, The Wire should have beaten Wigan Warriors at Old Trafford.

It may seem like a bold statement, but it will be a sentiment echoed by many of a primrose and blue persuasion as they conduct yet another post-mortem.

Unlike the Wembley defeat to Catalans in which Wolves were comprehensively outplayed, Wigan were there for the taking and they let them off the hook.

The fact they allowed the Warriors to give head coach Shaun Wane and three key players their golden goodbye was down to their attack, which can best be described as inept.

It was as if Warrington exhausted their ideas to send Josh Charnley over for the game’s opening try, because after that their offensive game completely fell apart.

Whether it was second rowers and wingers being asked to kick on the sixth tackle, passes narrowly missing players’ heads such was their inaccuracy or completely aimless kicks, they always found a way to shoot themselves in the foot.

Despite that, Stefan Ratchford deserves eternal praise for his Harry Sunderland Trophy-winning display. He was attacking on his own most of the time, and to pick up that award while being on the losing side speaks volumes.

The Wire were not helped by a few questionable calls from referee Robert Hicks going against them, mind.

Bodene Thompson was harshly penalised for tackling Thomas Leuluai after he kicked and the resulting set led to Dom Manfredi’s first try for the Cherry and Whites.

Then came the two Sam Tomkins incidents that got everyone talking.

While the Wigan full-back may have considered himself unfortunate to see yellow for tripping Bryson Goodwin, but Hicks’ decision not to send him to the bin for a sly knee to the head of a grounded Daryl Clark had most of the near-65,000 crowd inside Old Trafford scratching their heads.

However, this cannot be used as an excuse.

Yes, having a 10-minute period close to half time with a numerical advantage would have been a boost, but the way Wolves were attacking plus Wigan’s ferocious defence meant they may have come through it unscathed anyway.

And so, the Warriors will ride off into the sunset with another Super League crown. They have now won 14 championship titles since Warrington last celebrated being the cream of England.

The Wire will be left to brood, but while they may have lost both finals this year, they can still consider this year a success.

This was supposed to be a season of transition, with a new coach and new ideas to implement. After the miser of last year, a lot of people would have been quietly satisfied with a top-eight place.

The fact they have given themselves a great chance of winning both trophies deserves great credit.

On the other hand, the longer their drought goes on, the harder it becomes to stop the rot.


. The Wire’s fourth Super League Grand Final defeat, and their third to Wigan.

. Stefan Ratchford becomes the second player – after Paul Deacon with Bradford in 2002 – to win the Harry Sunderland Trophy despite being on the losing side.

. Tyrone Roberts, George King and Bodene Thompson play their final games for Warrington.

. Wire have now lost their past six major finals (four Grand Finals, two Challenge Cup Finals)

. 64,892 is the lowest Super League Grand Final crowd since 2009.


Super League Grand Final

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Wigan Warriors...12 Warrington Wolves...4

Warriors: Sam Tomkins; Dom Manfredi, Dan Sarginson, Oliver Gildart, Tom Davies; George Williams, Thomas Leuluai; Romain Navarette, Sam Powell, Ben Flower, John Bateman, Joe Greenwood, Sean O'Loughlin. Subs: Morgan Escare, Liam Farrell, Ryan Sutton, Tony Clubb.

Wolves: Stefan Ratchford; Josh Charnley, Toby King, Bryson Goodwin, Tom Lineham; Kevin Brown, Tyrone Roberts; Chris Hill, Daryl Clark, Mike Cooper, Jack Hughes, Bodene Thompson, Ben Westwood. Subs: Joe Philbin, Ben Murdoch-Masila, George King, Dec Patton.

Scoring: Charnley try, 12mins, 0-4; Manfredi try, 26mins, 4-4; Davies try, 31mins, 8-4; Manfredi try, 78mins, 12-4.

Penalties: Warriors 4 Wolves 7

Referee: Robert Hicks

Attendance: 64,892