- Wigan Warriors run out 32-8 winners over Huddersfield Giants
- Wigan book first semi-final place
The Warriors return to Old Trafford for the third time in as many years in search of some silverware.
Wigan dominated for the majority of the full 80 in both attack and defence. The warriors ran five tries past their opponents with Huddersfield only managing to cross the whitewash once. The departing Matty Bowen put on a worthy performance, troubling the Giants defence with his quick feet, with Man of the Match John Bateman also proving to be a tricky opponent. Huddersfield provided plenty on the attack, launching numerous attacks down the wing, but on the night Wigan’s defence were on top form to deny their visitors on many occasions.
Coach Shaun Wane opted to drop winger Joshua Charnley to be replaced by John Bateman who has impressed all season for the Warriors. Dream team duo Burgess and Farrell featured along with youngster Dom Manfredi who grabbed four tries in their previous game. Huddersfield brought in Jake Connor in a few bench changes from their tie with Leeds, leaving in the experienced Grix, Ferres and Brough.
80 minutes away from a Grand Final appearance at Old Trafford. Huddersfield had not been in a position to appear at a final for several years, and for Wigan, a win would mean a third Grand Final appearance in as many years. A lot was at stake for both teams.
Matty Bowen opened the game with a kick to Huddersfield and the game started brightly as Wigan sent a searching charge down their right hand side, Huddersfield looked up for it though as they bundled Wigan into touch early on. Almost immediately Huddersfield tried the same move but Wigan were quick to return the favour by forcing the Giants into touch.
On the return set Wigan were keen to keep the ball alive and Bowen attempted a low ball to the corner for the on-running Dom Manfredi, Huddersfield were quickest to react but gave away a goal line drop out in the process. Wigan capitalised on this as in the fifth minute Ben Flower received the ball 20 metres out and raced through a gap to score right under the sticks, Matty Bowen with no trouble converted from close range.
Huddersfield had a spell of possession deep in Wigan territory but seemed unable to keep hold of the ball on a few occasions, giving Wigan some breathing space. A seemingly frustrated Huddersfield gave away a penalty 14 minutes in, just 30 metres from the try line the home side opted for two points and were successful again from the boot of Bowen. Wigan had an 8-0 lead early on in the semi-final.
Huddersfield got some wind in their sails after finding themselves behind early on, several attacks surged right up to the Wigan try line but some brilliant defence to force the Giants into touch and to hold up the player meant that Huddersfield were still without a try to their name nearing the end of the first half.
John Bateman extended Wigan’s lead in the 34th minute. Wigan again keeping the ball alive on the last tackle, Sam Powell sent a lovely ball to the corner, which was collected by Manfredi who did well to send an offload round the back for Bateman to dive in at the corner. The missed conversion meaning Wigan led 12-0.
Right on the hooter, the home side gave away a penalty on their try line after making every effort to deny the visitors a try. The Giants decided a penalty conversion was their best option and Brough was right on target to shorten the deficit as the teams went in for their half-time team talk.
HALF TIME: Wigan Warriors 12-2 Huddersfield Giants.
With a Grand Final spot at stake it was no surprise that Huddersfield came out for the second period with an attacking frame of mind, in the early stages of the second half they pressed on numerous occasions into Wigan’s defence, with some testing high balls being played. Wigan, however, were not going to let up their lead easily and held strong in defence to deny the Giants again.
It was on the 50th minute when Wigan cemented their lead even further, great team play in the build-up allowed Wigan to surge forward from inside their own half. Matty Smith threw the ball to Matty Bowen who thought quick on his feet to tap the ball on to Manfredi who managed to beat his markers to go over in the corner. From the touchline, Bowen added the extras to make is 18-2.
Just four minutes later and another well worked team try allowed Burgess to break down the wing, running out of options a kick was sent towards the try line, Bateman was the first to get there but looked to have been fouled in the process. The referee called on his video referee for some help, after much deliberation Wigan were awarded a penalty try to confirm Bateman had his second of the match and giving them an easy conversion.
With Wigan really fired up, they continued to press and press. Full back Bowen tried a chip and chase for himself but was obstructed as he tried to do so, in a dangerous position the penalty was awarded. Bowen converted the goal for his troubles to extend Wigan’s lead to 26-2 with 15 minutes remaining.
In the 67th minute Huddersfield were finally rewarded for their pressure as they make great yards in the set to feed Brett Ferres, who crashed over under the sticks from close range. The effort was converted cleanly and took the scores to 26-8 but it seemed it might be too little too late for the Giants.
With just a minute left to play, Tony Clubb added the Cherry onto the Cherry and White’s cake by diving under the sticks. Clubb was fed a neat pass and just had to get his body over the line, doing so easily. The last play of the game was the conversion by Matty Bowen, his last act on the DW pitch for Wigan.
FULL TIME: Wigan Warriors 32-8 Huddersfield Giants.
Wigan Warriors – 32
Tries: Flower, Bateman (2), Manfredi, Clubb
Penalty Conversions: 2/2
Huddersfield Giants – 8
Penalty Conversions: 1/1
Attendance: 10, 035
Wigan Warriors – 1.Matty Bowen, 22. Dom Manfredi, 14. John Bateman, 34. Oliver Gildart, 5. Joe Burgess, 6. George Williams, 7. Matty Smith, 8. Dom Crosby, 9. Michael Mcilorum, 10. Ben Flower, 11. Joel Tomkins, 12. Liam Farrell, 13. Sean O’Loughlin. Replacements – 16. Sam Powell, 17. Tony Clubb, 23. Lee Mossop, 25. Larne Patrick.
Huddersfield Giants – 1. Scott Grix, 2. Jermaine McGillvary, 3. Leroy Cudjoe, 22.Jake Connor, 5. Aaron Murphy, 6. Danny Brough, 20. Jamie Ellis, 15. Craig Kopczak, 7. Luke Robinson, 10. Craig Huby, 4. Joe Wardle, 12. Jack Hughes, 11. Brett Ferres. Replacements- 8. Eorl Crabtree, 13. Chris Bailey, 14. Michael Lawrence, 17. Ukuma Ta’ai.