Martin Gleeson evades Paul Wellens to touch down at Old Trafford
By Ged Scott
BBC Sport at Old Trafford
Wigan pulled off their first Grand Final victory in 12 years by beating neighbours St Helens to ruin Keiron Cunningham's farewell at Old Trafford.
An early blitz of tries from Martin Gleeson (2) and Darrell Goulding put Michael Maguire's side 16-0 up.
And, although Andrew Dixon pulled one back for Saints before the break, Sam Tomkins' early second-half try sealed a deserved win for Wigan.
Francis Meli's late try could not spare Saints' fourth straight Final defeat.
Wigan had lost on their last two visits to Old Trafford, against St Helens in 2000 and Bradford in 2003.
But, having been acclaimed as the best side all season in lifting the League Leaders' Shield, this time they added the Grand Final to go with it in front of a record 71,526 crowd to be crowned Super League champions for the first time since beating Leeds 10-4 on the same ground in 1998.
Maguire praises 'special' players
And they defied the late first-half loss of injured record-breaking points machine Pat Richards in doing it.
Without the injured Kyle Eastmond, as expected, Matty Smith took over at scrum-half for Saints, with Jon Wilkin at stand-off.
But coach Mick Potter sprang a slight surprise by switching Sia Soliola to the pack, freeing him to recall fit-again Jonny Lomax on the wing and slip Meli inside to centre.
Wigan coach Michael Maguire resisted any temptation to include fit-again Amos Roberts, while leaving Mark Riddell on the bench.
There was a minute's silence before the game for former Wigan and Great Britain forward Terry Newton - not as respectfully observed as it might have been by a near capacity crowd.
But it did not take long for the mood to brighten for the Warriors fans - with the game's first try inside three minutes.
Soliola's misplaced pass lost possession deep inside his own half - setting up an attacking platform down the right - and Gleeson was on the end of it to power over in the right corner, Richards missing with the touchline conversion.
The first quarter of an hour had belonged to the league leaders and they made that dominance tell with a brilliant second try on 16 minutes.
Fed by Thomas Leuluai, Tomkins' stunning burst made it and, with Leuluai involved for a second time, it was Paul Deacon who slipped in Gleeson to gallop clear under the posts for his second try of the night and his 15th of the campaign.
Richards converted that one and, just four minutes later, Wigan were in again when Jon Wilkin spilled Tomkins' bomb to allow Darrell Goulding in at the corner for his 28th try of the season.
Wigan's domination was almost embarrassing, but Saints had to respond.
Spurred on by a couple of inspiring runs from Matty Smith, they finally found a foothold in the game and Goulding was forced to come up with a great cover tackle to force the marauding Meli into touch.
But Saints forced a breakthrough 12 minutes before the break when Wilkin timed his pass just right for replacement forward Andrew Dixon to burst through close to the posts, Jamie Foster adding the extras.
No excuse for defeat - Potter
And there was worse news to follow for Wigan when this season's Man of Steel Richards limped down the tunnel five minutes before half time.
The Australian's absence proved a handicap when, with Leuluai having been denied a try with the first attack of the second half, only to be awarded a penalty, Wigan's replacement kicker Riddell missed from routine Richards range.
Wigan made up for it on 53 minutes when their star man Tomkins stole in for a superb solo try, resisting the challenges of three men and snaking out an arm to stretch his side three scores clear again.
Riddell again missed the kick but he made no mistake four minutes later when given another chance by referee Richard Silverwood with a penalty from in front of the posts to stretch Wigan's lead to 22-6.
Wigan thought they had sealed victory when Liam Farrell found a way through 20 minutes into the second half, only for it to be chalked off for obstruction by the video referee. And, with Riddell having gone off, Tomkins then made it four missed kicks on the night with another penalty opportunity.
That left Saints still just about within touching distance, especially when they ran in a second try with seven minutes left to move within two scores.
Smith's long pass let in Meli, lucky to still be on the pitch after a high challenge, to cross in the left corner. But it was far too little, far too late.
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