Warriors too good for Saints
Cherry and Whites clinch first title since 1998 with win over arch rivals
By Rob Lancaster. Last Updated: 02/10/10 9:25pm
Wigan: celebrate their first Super League title since 1998
Wigan were crowned Super League champions for the first time in 12 years after comfortably seeing off St Helens 22-10 at Old Trafford.
The Warriors made sure their arch rivals suffered a fourth straight Grand Final defeat thanks to three tries inside the opening 20 minutes.
Andrew Dixon's try shortly before half-time gave Saints hope, but there was to be no fairytale finish for Kieron Cunningham at the end of his glittering career.
Instead the result may lead to the start of a new dynasty of dominance for the Cherry and Whites under the reign of Australian Michael Maguire, who has clinched the ultimate prize in his first season in charge at the DW Stadium.
The Warriors had threatened to turn the game's showpiece into a rout with a whirlwind start inside the opening quarter, Martin Gleeson grabbing their first two tries against his former employers.
His opener came after just three minutes when slick handling put him over out wide on the right, after St Helens had surrendered possession close to their own line through Iosia Soliola trying an adventurous offload.
They were soon back defending for their lives again; Paul Deacon's accurate kicking towards Pat Richards' corner leading to three successive sets of six.
Although Wigan were unable to profit from their extended period of pressure, a second try was not long in coming, with Gleeson again the man to go over.
The centre was in the right place to finish off a flowing move that had begun deep in the Warriors' own half. Sam Tomkins' blistering turn of speed saw him round Jonny Lomax with ease. His inside ball found Paul Deacon who then offloaded out wide to the supporting Gleeson for an easy run-in.
Saints committed another cardinal sin when they failed to deal with a Deacon up-and-under, leading to Darrel Goulding's 29th, and possibly easiest, try of the campaign after 16 minutes.
Richards landed the extras from out near the touchline but the winger failed to see out the first half due to an Achilles injury. Having left Manchester on Monday night as the newly-crowned Man of Steel, he departed the same city on Saturday evening on crutches.
St Helens still only trailed by 10 at the break after Dixon took the perfect angle to run onto Jon Wilkin's pass and cut through a broken defensive line.
By then they had already gone close through Matty Smith and amazingly after being on the wrong end of such an early onslaught, the game was still in the balance with 40 minutes left to play.
But, having surrendered big leads before this season, Wigan were in no mood to let slip such an advantage on the grandest of occasions.
The absence of Richards meant they did miss out on points, Mark Riddell - playing his final match before returning to Australia - proving unable to kick two relatively straightforward penalties in his own unique style.
Any worries amongst the legion of Cherry and Whites fans were soon dispelled though, when the effervescent Sam Tomkins somehow reached out with a telescopic arm to touch the ball down on the right flank.
Riddell made it third time lucky when he landed his third penalty from bang in front of the sticks. Wigan could even afford to have a try from Liam Farrell chalked off for obstruction in the build-up as they threatened to cut loose.
To their credit, Saints continued to fight hard and a try from Francis Meli, who shrugged off Goulding to score in the left corner, gave them a glimmer of light. However it was no more than a consolation, Wigan successfully running down the clock to end their long wait to be champions again.
First Utility Super League
Tue 30th Jun
Hull K R34 - 28Salford Red Devils
Wed 1st Jul
Wakefield Wildcats26 - 16Hull FC
Thu 2nd Jul
Warrington Wolves17 - 6Wigan Warriors
Fri 3rd Jul
Leeds Rhinos46 - 18St Helens
Sun 5th Jul
Huddersfield Giants0 - 0Hull K R
Hull FC0 - 0Wakefield Wildcats
Salford Red Devils0 - 0Catalans Dragons
Castleford Tigers0 - 0Widnes Vikings
Thu 9th Jul
Wigan WarriorsvsLeeds Rhinos
Fri 10th Jul
St HelensvsHuddersfield Giants
Sun 12th Jul
Hull FC0 - 0Castleford Tigers
Salford Red Devils0 - 0Hull K R
Wakefield Wildcats0 - 0Warrington Wolves
Widnes Vikings0 - 0Catalans Dragons
Thu 16th Jul
Warrington WolvesvsSt Helens
Fri 17th Jul
Hull K RvsHull FC
Leeds Rhinos0 - 0Salford Red Devils
Wigan Warriors0 - 0Widnes Vikings
Sat 18th Jul
Catalans DragonsvsHuddersfield Giants
Sun 19th Jul
Wakefield Wildcats0 - 0Castleford Tigers
Thu 23rd Jul
Hull FCvsWigan Warriors
Fri 24th Jul
St Helens0 - 0Hull K R
Sun 26th Jul
Huddersfield Giants0 - 0Wakefield Wildcats
Leeds Rhinos0 - 0Catalans Dragons
Widnes Vikings0 - 0Salford Red Devils
Castleford Tigers0 - 0Warrington Wolves