A whole season in the making, the Warrington Wolves and Wigan Warriors clashed at Old Trafford in the fight for the ultimate prize, the Grand Final Trophy.
The game was too close to call. Warrington finished atop the pile at the end of the regular season, but Wigan were second. Warrington won two out of three meetings in 2016 but it was Wigan who won the last encounter, a thriller at the Halliwell-Jones, where they stole victory despite being reduced to twelve men.
No-one knew whether this would be the first time that the name Warrington Wolves would be etched onto the trophy, or whether Wigan would be able to end a two game losing Grand Final run. A full-house was all-set for a classic for the nineteenth Grand Final.
After absorbing six minutes of early Wolves pressure it was the Warriors who took the lead when, on their first real attack, they earned a penalty and Matty Smith slotted it between the uprights.
Both sides had spurned try scoring opportunities before on twenty minutes Declan Patton broke the Wigan line after throwing a dummy and dove over for the first try of the game. The Wolves youngster converted his own for a 6-2 lead.
The remainder of the half was scoreless but not as a result of a lack of attacking ambition, more of superb defence from both sides thwarting their opposition. There was very little to choose between the two sides.
On fifty-three there was a real defensive mix-up between Josh Charnley and Oliver Gildart which handed possession to the Wolves. Three plays in and Ryan Atkins appeared to go over but after referring the decision to the video referee the try was ruled out after Atkins was seen to drop the ball over the line.
Just a minute later and Wigan used their tackles to go the length of the field to score through Oliver Gildart. Farrell broke the Wolves line and went to the twenty before finding the centre with an accurate pass to slide over. Smith missed the conversion and the game was tied up at 6-6.
On sixty-two Tom Lineham lost the ball in the tackle, ten metres from his own line. Wigan used four tackles before Dan Sarginson put in a grubber to the corner. Despite a difficult bounce, Josh Charnley collected the ball and managed to ground it before sliding dead in goal. Smith again failed to add the conversion leaving Wigan with a four point lead.
A seventy third minute Smith penalty extended the lead to 12-6 after Warrington were penalised on their own line.
As the seconds ticked away it became clear that it wasn't to be Warrington's year as the Wigan defence held strong for the remaining seven minutes, to take a fourth Grand Final victory for the Warriors.
Wigan deserved to win the game after totally dominating the second half both in attack and with some superb defence. It was third time lucky for Shaun Wane's side as they quickly forgot the heartache of the last two seasons.
Wigan Warriors, Super League Champions 2016.
Ratchford, Lineham, Evans, Atkins, Russell, Gidley, Patton (T, G), Hill, Clark, Sims, Wilde, Hughes, Westerman. Subs: Sandow, Bailey, King T, King G.
Sarginson, Charnley (T), Gelling, Gildart (T), Tierney, Williams, Smith (2G), Nuuausala, Powell, Flower, Bateman, Farrell, Isa. Subs: Tautai, Sutton, Crosby, O'Loughlin.