Grand Final Preview!!
Tonight, at 6pm, we have two of England's rugby league giants lock horns to compete for Ruby League's biggest prize. It's that time again, the Grand Final. Old Trafford sees the Warrington Wolves play the Wigan Warriors, a repeat of the Grand Final back on October 5th 2013. Wigan came out on top in a close game that night, who will come out on top tonight? Warrington have the form, winning the League leaders shield, beating a low performing yet difficult to beat St Helens side at home in the Semi-finals, whilst Wigan managed, through a lot of inconsistency, to reach 2nd. They beat the Challenge cup winners Hull FC in the semi-final, in a very close, game of two halves match. The match tonight could go either way to be honest, so I expect a close game. The team who manages to force the mistakes and utilise them will win.
Wigan's inconsistency can be put down to bad luck, with serious injuries to key players like the returning Sam Tomkins, his brother Joel, Manfredi and captain O'loughlin. Warrington have capitalised this season, playing some superb rugby and are looking for their first Grand Final win. I think they may get it too. Warrington are full of pace, confidence and a fully fit team. Wigan will look to defend, attack in numbers and capitalise on any mistakes. I just think Warrington will be too strong. They look awesome of late.
The Grand Final sees Josh Charnley play his last game. A shame as I really liked his play, yet he's been inconsistent, he's not what he was for me, the way he played in 2013 was immense. He's declined since then, but so have Wigan. They miss that little bit of quality, Sam getting injured this season hasn't helped as he has been a big miss. They miss experience and drive too. Leuluai and Richards have been huge losses. While Wigan went with home grown talent and English talent, the team is aggressive but sluggish. Pace will work well for Warrington, as long as their handling is good, they will put Wigan under a lot of pressure.
Talking of pressure, it's just that which will decide today's game. Wigan need early scores and then defend well and try and contain Warrington's attack. Warrington will be wary of Wigan (Wigan did recently beat Warrington a few weeks ago, away) and will look to play their game. Wigan will too. It's like defence versus attack. Wigan are very experienced and would hope they have learnt from their last couple of Grand Final losses. Warrington have their own pressure, can they finally win the illustrious prize?? It's amazing that they have never won it. Wigan have habits of making mistakes in grand finals, not pressing enough, and then pressing too much and lashing out (we don't need reminders of Flowers awful assault). They need a fine balance, the balance of 2013, against Warrington (will that play on the minds of the teams?) which saw Wigan take the lead, injuries hamper Warrington early on but lead into the second half with Wigan launching counter attack assaults to deadly consequences for the Wolves.
I predict a close game, not too many mistakes but there will be some. I think Warrington are quick, will score points and look to score them as early as possible. I think if Wigan are within a score of Warrington going into the last twenty minutes, Wigan will fancy their chances. Warrington need a two score lead late on and put Wigan under pressure to perform. Wigan make a lot of mistakes, particularly this season and they seem to switch off. Warrington will punish like a pack of Wolves tonight if Wigan switch off. If Wigan perform like Warriors with a superior defence and apply the pressure, they will come out on top. I don't think they will though. I like Warrington and I fancy a close but comfortable win for them tonight. 23-16. I'm a Wigan fan and I like to think I'm not biased, but I really like the look of the Wolves, if they're ever going to win the Grand Final, tonight is the night and tonight is the night that players can make hero's of themselves. I hope for a good game and a good advertisement for Rugby League. We march onto Manchester and Old Trafford, see you on the other side. I'll post a review of the match tomorrow sometime, I hope.