Following a sensational five wins on the bounce to begin Super League XXI, Wigan Warriors had to dust themselves off after three defeats in six outings, including a 62-0 hammering by Wakefield Trinity Wildcats.
But Shaun Wane’s men are made of tough stuff, and their mixture of flair, physicality and team spirit have seen the Warriors live up to their name.
So, in honour of this wonderful Wigan team, Ladbrokes News have taken a look back at the key games which got them to the Grand Final against Warrington Wolves.
Wigan 20-16 Salford Red Devils (H, 25/02/2016)
An all-action contest between two big packs, this game swung every which way. Gareth O’Brien kicked to put Salford ahead, before Wigan raced into a lead, and were then pegged back at 16-16.
That was before Anthony Gelling’s stellar pass set up Dominic Manfredi to squeeze in a 72nd-minute try by mere inches. The hosts defended manfully to secure victory, and make it three wins from three.
Wakefield 62-0 Wigan (A, 10/04/2016)
Admittedly, injuries played their part in this one, but while it was a horrible afternoon for the Wigan fans who made this trip across the Pennines, the defeat seemed to be the wake-up call that Shaun Wane’s men needed.
They followed the defeat with back-to-back wins over Castleford Tigers and Huddersfield Giants, conceding fewer than 20 points in both games. And a little while later, there was time for revenge.
Wigan 22-18 Wakefield (A, 08/07/2016)
Despite going behind early on, Wigan battled back to exact sweet revenge on the side who had humbled them back in April.
As with the Salford game, this one swung back and forth, with Wakey on course for a second successive win over the Warriors, before a pair of outstanding tries from Lewis Tierney snatched victory for Wane’s charges in the final moments. Phew!
Wigan 25-0 St Helens (H, 19/08/16)
Proof if any was needed that Wigan’s defence are invincible at their best. At the other end, the home side flew out of the traps early and were 12-0 up at the half-hour mark, before easing themselves further ahead in the second period.
Confident and commanding, they swept aside one of Super League’s best outfits. Repeat that level of performance, and there’s every chance they’ll topple Warrington in the Grand Final.
Wigan 28-18 Hull FC (H, 30/09/16)
One for the ages, this. A dramatic, top-quality clash which, in true Wigan fashion, see-sawed between two of the most technically gifted and physically imposing sides in Super League.
The Warriors got their game plan spot on, with an energetic attacking display which tore through the Hull backline, going 8-0 up in the first 15 minutes, and extending the lead to 14-0 at half-time.
Their opponents battled back to gain a narrow lead in the second half, before Sam Powell used his energy and quick footwork to sneak a try, with Anthony Gelling adding the icing on the cake in the final seconds. Warrington have plenty to fear.
And having cruised to a first-half lead before securing victory against Hull, the 7/4 for Wigan to lead at the interval and win also looks like excellent value indeed.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing