Wigan into Super League Grand Final after comfortably beating Huddersfield

Published: Thursday 1st October 2015 by The News Editor

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Winger Dominic Manfredi celebrated his 22nd birthday with the all-important try that eased Wigan into a third successive Grand Final at the expense of a disappointing Huddersfield.

Manfredi, who justified his selection ahead of England international Josh Charnley, went over for his 21st try of the season nine minutes into the second half to put the Warriors firmly in control of the first Super League semi-final at the DW Stadium, where they made it 21 wins in a row against top-flight opposition.

John Bateman, a superb makeshift centre, scored a try in each half and Wigan’s other scores in their 32-8 victory came from forwards Tony Clubb and Ben Flower, who will get the chance to make amends for the red card that proved so costly in last October’s Grand Final defeat by St Helens.

The Warriors, who kept their line intact for over an hour, will now meet the winners of Friday’s second semi-final between Leeds and St Helens at Old Trafford next Saturday.

It was all too easy as Wigan cruised to a fourth win of the year over the Giants, who once more demonstrated an inability to rise to the big occasion.

It was a disappointing end for Craig Kopczak, Chris Bailey and Jack Hughes, who all made farewell appearances, and an all too familiar anti-climax for the Giants supporters who travelled to the DW Stadium in unusually large numbers in great anticipation but witnessed a 12th defeat in 15 play-off ties going back to 2007.

Flower had told his team-mates in the dressing room before kick-off that he owed it to them to help get them back to Old Trafford and he was as good as his word as he brushed off the attempted tackle of Huddersfield centre Jake Connor to score the first try after only four minutes.

The visitors could not live with the Warriors in the opening quarter and they had a let-off when England second rower Liam Farrell failed to make the most of a clean break by centre Oliver Gildart.

The Giants eventually stemmed the onslaught with the aid of a couple of uncharacteristic handling errors from England captain Sean O’Loughlin and, although Matty Bowen extended Wigan’s lead with an 18th-minute penalty, Huddersfield would have been happy to trail only 8-0 after half-an-hour.

However, the impressive Bateman added a second try for the Warriors six minutes before the break with a clinical finish at the corner, with Manfredi making the ball available after collecting Sam Powell’s kick over the defence..

Huddersfield’s best scoring chance came a minute before half-time when prolific winger Jermaine McGillvary gathered Jamie Ellis’ kick to the wing and rounded Joe Burgess only to be brought down just short of the line by Bowen.

With only seconds of the first half remaining when his side were awarded a penalty, Danny Brough opted to kick for goal and he reduced the deficit to 10 points.

The visitors produced their best spell of attacking rugby at the start of the second half but second rower Brett Ferres was held up over the line and McGillvary was bundled into touch at the corner.

Wigan were far more clinical and they booked their trip to Old Trafford with two tries in five minutes.

Manfredi twisted and turned out of tackles to cross for his 21st try of the season and Bateman was awarded a penalty try by the video referees after he was impeded by full-back Scott Grix in pursuit of a rolling ball.

Bowen kicked his third conversion and then landed a second penalty to make it 26-2 before Huddersfield gained some consolation through Ferres’ 68th-minute try.

Wigan then had the last say when Clubb scored their fifth try a minute from the end and Bowen took his goal tally to six from seven attempts.

Published: Thursday 1st October 2015 by The News Editor

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