Wigan set up replay of 2016 Super League grand final
ENGLISH Super League champions Wigan have booked their place in next Saturday's grand final after holding off Castleford 14-0 at the JJB Stadium.
The Warriors produced all the defensive qualities instilled in them by outgoing coach Shaun Wane to clinch a 10th Super League Grand Final appearance where they'll face Steve Price's Warrington.
The 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 the GF.
Bateman and Sutton will link up with Canberra in the NRL next season with Tomkins heading to French side Catalans.
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 for 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.
Castleford, urged on by a vociferous following of 4500 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.
Tomkins then fittingly wrapped up the scoring in the final minute with his second drop goal.