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Super League Grand Final review: Wigan secure sixth Grand Final crown

Wigan Warriors won a sixth Grand Final title after beating Catalans Dragons 10-2 in a close battle at Old Trafford on Saturday night.

Super League's best two teams were always expected to cancel each other out, and Saturday's tie could have gone either way in Manchester.

In the end, Wigan managed the game better, scoring the game's only try in the second half.

Saturday's success was Wigan's first since 2018, while Catalans have now lost both of their Grand Final appearances.

Cherry and Whites prove their worth

When Wigan hired Matty Peet as their new boss in October 2021, they signalled to the club's fanbase that they were building for the future.

Peet had spent 13 years within Wigan's coaching team before he was given the top job, and he followed a similar path to Shaun Wane, Wigan's leadership and management director, who is now the England coach.

Wigan wanted a homegrown coach who knows what it means to the fans to win trophies, and he finally got his moment in the spotlight on Saturday.

Peet won the Challenge Cup in 2022 with Wigan, but his team finally proved they are the best in England with a gutsy display in Manchester.

After losing in this year's Challenge Cup semi-finals, Wigan kicked on, winning their final eight matches of the regular season.

Final Regular Season Standings

1Wigan Warriors2740
2Catalans Dragons2740
3St Helens2740
4Hull KR2732
5Leigh Leopards2732
6Warrington Wolves2728
7Salford Red Devils2726
8Leeds Rhinos2724
9Huddersfield Giants2722
10Hull FC2720
11Castleford Tigers2712
12Wakefield Trinity278

They won 11 league matches on the spin to lift the Grand Final trophy, but they did so by the thinnest of margins.

Adam Keighran and Harry Smith both scored penalties in a tense first half, with the score 2-2 at half-time. Keighran was sin-binned, as was Catalans team-mate Tom Davies, and the extra effort with 12 men eventually took its toll.

Davies was sent to the stands for 10 minutes after pulling back Liam Marshall, only for Marshall to score during his absence.

Wigan were then able to secure a comfortable victory thanks to their sublime defensive effort, and Peet says it is their reward for several years of hard work.

He told Sky Sports: "It feels good, and it's been a long time coming. Myself and Rads [chief executive Kris Radlinski] started talking about what we wanted to achieve over the next few years a couple of years ago, and we're building.

"We've got a special group of players, a special club from top to bottom, and I'm proud of everyone in the environment."

Disappointed Tomkins bows out

While Wigan coach Peet got his tactics perfect, Catalans did not do themselves justice under Steve McNamara.

The French outfit spent a large part of the season at the top of the table, only to lose their place to Wigan after a 34-0 defeat to the Cherry and Whites in August before they then lost 26-18 to Hull KR.

Catalans still deserved to book their place in the final, but they just could not get going in attack. Losing two players to the sin bin did not help their cause, but neither Davies nor Tom Johnstone found enough space to work in out wide.

In the middle, Mitchell Pearce and Sam Tomkins, who retired at full-time, could not come up with any magic, and Catalans' kicking game failed to cause Wigan any problems.

McNamara was frustrated with the decision to show Keighran the yellow card, but he conceded Wigan were the better team.

It was a bittersweet night for Tomkins as he watched his former club celebrate another Grand Final success.

He won three Grand Final titles with the Cherry and Whites but could not add to his trophy cabinet and help Catalans win their first Super League crown.

Tomkins retires as one of Super League's best-ever players, and he says he has no regrets about retirement.

He told Sky Sports: "I lived my dream and I'm sad today, but hopefully I can look back over the last 15 years and be happy.

"I've had a lot of hard points, and it doesn't get any lower than this, but I've had a lot more highs, and I just want to thank everyone from every player I've played with and every coach.

"I've been getting messages all week from people saying: 'Thanks for what you've done for the game,' and I need to thank the game. It's given me absolutely everything, and it's made me the player and the person I am."

Catalans have now reached two Grand Finals in three years, but McNamara has his work cut out to try and replace Tomkins and Pearce.

There will be changes at Wigan in the off-season, too, with chairman Ian Lenagan stepping down, while Kai Pearce-Paul will be playing in the NRL next season for the Newcastle Knights.

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