There is just one show in town this weekend, the town being Manchester, and the show being the Super League Grand Final between the Warrington Wolves and the Wigan Warriors. Last weekend’s underdogs Warrington overcame the odds to secure their fourth final in eight years and will be looking to do the same on Saturday night against the 2018 favourites, Wigan Warriors. The Warriors are seeking their fifth title from ten attempts while Warrington have yet to lift the trophy after twenty-one years of trying.
Wigan are odds on favourites with the bookies to repeat their 2013 and 2016 results by beating the Wolves and condemning them to the losers medals in both major competitions this season, them having lost to the Catalans Dragons at Wembley in August.
There is one other game this weekend, to be played on Sunday afternoon, as Swinton and Workington Town play-off for a place in next seasons Championship.
Warrington coach Steve Price has named his squad as; Ryan Atkins, Kevin Brown, Josh Charnley, Daryl Clark, Mike Cooper, Bryson Goodwin, Chris Hill, Jack Hughes, George King, Toby King, Tom Lineham, Harvey Livett, Ben Murdoch-Masila, Declan Patton, Joe Philbin, Stefan Ratchford, Tyrone Roberts, Bodene Thompson, and Ben Westwood, unchanged from the nineteen who performed so well in defeating minor premiers, St Helens last weekend.
In his final game in charge for the Warriors, coach Sean Wane has named an unchanged nineteen of; John Bateman, Tony Clubb, Tom Davies, Morgan Escare, Liam Farrell, Ben Flower, Oliver Gildart, Joe Greenwood, Gabe Hamlin, Tommy Leuluai, Dom Manfredi, Romain Navarrete, Sean O’Loughlin, Sam Powell, Dan Sarginson, Ryan Sutton, Taulima Tautai, Sam Tomkins, and George Williams.
The last time that the two sides met was on the 14th September when the Warriors strolled to a 26-6 win. It was much closer back in July when Wigan won by 13-12 at the DW Stadium while Warrington won the Challenge Cup game in early June by 23-0. The league game at the Magic weekend was won comprehensively by Wigan with a score line of 38-10. Warrington had won the game in February, the first meeting of the season, by 16-10. This will be the sixth meeting of the season in all competitions with Wigan 3-2 ahead in terms of wins and an aggregate score line of 87-67.
Neither side should have stage fright on the big night as both are stuffed full of players with Grand Final experience. The sides have met two previously at Old Trafford with Wigan the victors on both occasions. In 2013 the winning score was 30-16 but two years ago in 2016 it was much closer at 12-6.
It will be an emotional night for a number of players and a coach, whatever the outcome. Wigan coach Sean Wane will leave for pastures new after seven years in the head coaching role and will be packing his locker alongside Sam Tomkins, John Bateman and Ryan Sutton. The Wolves will also be saying goodbye to a number of their Grand Final squad with Tyrone Roberts, George King, and Bodene Thompson all pulling on the Primrose and Blue for the last time.
The seasons climax will be played out in front of a near capacity stadium and a large TV audience with most commentators and neutrals hoping that the Wolves can give the Warriors a game in a close match that will go down to the closing moments with the victor still in the balance. The pundits and bookies think it will be a walk in the park for the Cherry and White, but then they thought that it would be the Saints who would be running out onto the Old Trafford turf at just before six o’clock on Saturday evening.
Sunday’s game is crucial for both Swinton and Workington Town as they look to secure the fourteenth place in the new expanded Championship for 2019. Having finished bottom of the Championship pile at the end of the season it is up to Swinton to defeat the side who lost out in the play-offs to the Bradford Bulls last weekend. It is likely to be a close and highly competitive game between two sides keen for Championship rugby in 2019.