Wolves tamed by classy Wigan

WIGAN can land their third Grand Fi­nal win against War­ring­ton at Old Traf­ford.

The Racing Paper - - Rugby League Football - by John An­thony

The War­riors got the bet­ter of the Wolves 12-6 in 2016 and 30-16 three years ear­lier.

More im­por­tantly is the form each team brings into the big match.

The Wolves stunned rugby league by win­ning their semi-fi­nal at St He­lens.

That amaz­ing vic­tory means they de­serve their place at Old Traf­ford but is against their cur­rent run of form that has seen them lose four of their past 10 out­ings.

Wigan have won 10 on the spin and nilled a de­cent Castle­ford side in their semi.

War­ring­ton also have a pyscho­log­i­cal bar­rier to break through.

It’s a run­ning joke in the sport that they haven’t won the ti­tle – in its var­i­ous forms – since 1955.

While the cur­rent crop of War­ring­ton play­ers can’t be blamed for that, it can’t help to keep hear­ing the stat in the build-up to the big game.

They fin­ished the sea­son in fourth spot and have al­ready blown it once on the big day.

That was when they lost to Cata­lans Dragons in the Chal­lenge Cup fi­nal at Wem­b­ley in Au­gust.

Coach Steve Price ad­mits it was hard to pick up his troops af­ter that but they must have a chance hav­ing beaten the Saints on their own patch.

They will need Tom Line­han at his very best again af­ter his dou­ble in the semi-fi­nal but even that is not likely to be enough.

Although Wigan are the most dec­o­rated side in the game, they will be des­per­ate to win this Grand Fi­nal for de­part­ing coach Sean Wane along with Sam Tomkins, John Bate­man and Ryan Sut­ton who are all pulling on the cherry and white for the fi­nal time.

One of that trio is likely to pick up the Harry Sun­der­land Tro­phy for man of the match.

Tomkins is just 4/1 with some firms for the hon­our, which seems ridicu­lous and the 7/1 with William Hill and Bet­fred looks more like it.

But the smart money must be on Bate­man who has been a mas­sive in­flu­ence on the War­riors get­ting to the fi­nal and is head­ing down un­der af­ter this.

He is a much fairer 9/1 with Bet­fair Sports­book and he should have a big game from his po­si­tion ei­ther at loose for­ward or in the sec­ond row.

Bate­man picked up a hand­ful of man-of-the­match awards dur­ing the sea­son and there’s a feel­ing that he was un­lucky to miss out on be­ing named Man of Steel to St He­lens’ Ben Barba. This gives the press a chance to ac­knowl­edge that.

He has a good chance of cross­ing the white­wash too at some point in the game so the 10/3 with Bet­fair is worth a look.

For the match bet, Grand Fi­nals are fairly tight and Leeds’ 24-6 win over Castle­ford last year was the big­gest win­ning mar­gin in a decade.

Wigan aren’t great value at 4/7 to lift the tro­phy and it may be worth a small in­ter­est in War­ring­ton lead­ing at half-time but los­ing the match.

That’s what hap­pened in 2016 when Wire had their noses in front at the break only to be pegged back.

Be­cause nei­ther side has been dom­i­nant through the reg­u­lar sea­son, it is hard to see this turn­ing into a rout.

So it makes sense to back Wigan to win by 1-12 points at 7/4 with Bet­fred.

Great Bate: John Bate­man can lead Wigan to Grand Fi­nal glory on his farewell out­ing for the War­riors

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