Wigan Warriors are heading to Wembley this weekend, as Shaun Wane’s side look to end a five-year wait to lift the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup. Beat Hull FC in the Final, and the North-West club will be the first side to lift this famous trophy 20 times.
Ahead of their showdown with the Airlie Birds, we’ve taken a look back at Wigan’s winding route to the Final, from lower-league away days to an incredible narrow win and a superb Semi-Final comeback…
Swinton Lions 12-42 Wigan Warriors (Sixth Round, Sunday 14 May)
While tougher tests and higher drama would follow in the Warriors’ following two games, they dispatched part-timers Swinton in ruthless fashion at Heywood Road.
Seven different players – every one of them academy products – recorded tries for the visitors, who led early and never looked like slipping up.
The Cherry & Whites had actually lost two games on the spin heading into this test, but the nerves were calmed by Joe Burgess nipping over the try line after eight minutes.
Exciting hooker Josh Gannon and the tricky Liam Marshall also played a big part in the damage, and while their Championship opponents did have a few brief moments of cheer, this was a day for Wigan’s young guns.
Warrington Wolves 26-27 Wigan Warriors (Quarter Final, Saturday 17 June)
If push comes to shove, we’d probably have to pick this as the game of the tournament so far. A thrilling, all-action, totally unpredictable cup tie which saw Wane’s charges win at the Halliwell-Jones Stadium for the third time in succession.
Oliver Gildart’s electric pace and fine handling set up Burgess for the game’s opening try, before the 22-year-old grabbed his second try of the game in the 21st minute. A successful conversion made it 12-0, and Wigan were seemingly cruising…
However, the Wire roared back with a pair of Ryan Atkins tries to make it 12-12, and the pair continued to trade blows in the scoring. John Bateman’s try and a Sam Tomkins drop-kick eventually took Wigan to 27-20 up, before Kurt Gidley’s try brought Warrington back to within a point, and produce a nervy last few moments.
Still, Wane’s men hung on to book a spot in the Semis.
Wigan Warriors 27-14 Salford Red Devils (Semi-Final, Sunday 30 July)
Once again Wigan roared into a 12-0 lead, only to find themselves dragged back into choppy waters. Well-worked tries from Gildart and winger Willie Isa for the Cherry & Whites were quickly cancelled out. Michael Dobson made it over the line for Salford, before a truly inspired kick let Tyrone McCarthy in to equal the scores.
A Salford conversion followed, and the interval arrived with Ian Watson’s men 14-12 ahead.
However, this Warriors side just don’t know when they’re beaten, and turned the tables in emphatic style during a hugely one-sided second period. A trio of second-half conversions from George Williams proved important, but England international Michael McIlorum essentially put the nail in Salford’s coffin with his 60th-minute try.
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