Grand Final: Wigan Warriors 12 Warrington Wolves 4

Dom Manfredi celebrates his second try which sealed the 2018 Super League title for WiganDom Manfredi celebrates his second try which sealed the 2018 Super League title for Wigan
Dom Manfredi celebrates his second try which sealed the 2018 Super League title for Wigan
There was blood, sweat and tears. Dreams were realised, and crushed.

And in the end, there was the sight of a proud head coach hugging his players, hugging his mates.

Shaun Wane had said he couldn't rely on fate to decide Wigan's fortunes. Fortunately, he had a team of players who exhibited incredible effort and no shortage of courage - and no one typified that more than Dom Manfredi.

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In only his fifth match back from an injury which sidelined him for two years, he pounced for two tries - including a vital second in the 77th minute.

Incredibly, he returned to the pitch with a head wound heavily-bandaged.

It ensured Wane - and departing Sam Tomkins, John Bateman and Ryan Sutton - got the fairytale finish they craved.

Warrington were playing their fourth Grand Final and seeking their first title since 1955. They certainly turned up but their attacking arsenal couldn't break a defence which worked tigerishly and tirelessly.

For the Wire, there's always next year.

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For Wigan, it's time to celebrate and party and reflect - and to thank Wane and the rest for what they have done.

The Warriors led 8-4 at half-time and kept their opponents at jabbing distance away through a tight, tidier second-half until Manfredi pounced with three minute to go.

It was a beautiful finish to a game which had an ugly flare-up of a tunnel scuffle at half-time.

Replays showed Bryson Goodwin shoving Morgan Escare, and Romain Navarrete rushed in and sparked a melee. The RFL said the incident would be in the match commissioner's report, and so no action - if any - would be taken until Monday.

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The train strikes no doubt had an impact on the size of the crowd - less than 65,000 - but those who attended were in full voice during the build-up, and rarely relented.

Wigan greats Andy Farrell and Martin Offiah, national boss Wayne Bennett, England coach Eddie Jones and ex-Three Lions captain Stuart Pearce were among the guests.

Super League chiefs put on a busy show featuring interviews and music, before the sides - both lining-up as expected - emerged shortly before 6pm to battle for the Super League trophy.

The wire-wool clouds threatened a storm which never came and, on a surprisingly mild night, the four imposing walls of seats provided some protection from the howling wind.

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Errors, though, littered the first half with Wigan completing little more than half their sets - the fact they led 8-4 spoke volumes of their line-defence, as well as Wolves' mistakes as well.

After a typically brutal opening, the Wolves - beaten Challenge Cup finalists - struck the first blow in the 14th minute.

And of course it had to be Josh Charnley - who bowed out of Wigan with victory on this stage two years earlier - who broke the deadlock.

A penalty conceded by Romain Navarrete was compounded by a knock-on by Dan Sarginson, gifting the Wolves another set on Wigan's line, and Charnley finished off a crisp attack to the right which Tyrone Roberts couldn't convert.

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There was needle throughout the half, and Tomkins was penalised for a trip on Goodwin, which again marched Wolves down field.

Wigan smartened up their play, and drew level in the 26th minute through Manfredi.

A crisp attack to the right fed Oliver Gildart, and the classy centre showed great poise and footwork to step through a jagged defence and send over his winger.

Wigan's handling improved, and their attack turned from panicky to adventurous for a spell, though their next score caught many - certainly Warrington - by surprise.

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Tom Davies raced onto George Williams' measured angled kick into the in-goal and touched down before sliding down the steep embankment behind the deadball line.

Tomkins was off-target with both attempts.

Thomas Leuluai was forced off the field for a head assessment - he would later return for the start of the second-half - as errors from Ryan Sutton and Gildart, and then a penalty when Tomkins led with the knees on Darly Clark, invited Warrington into their half.

Wigan repelled those threats but the questions at half-time - once footage of a tunnel melee had been scrutinised - was whether the volume of defending would draim their energy reserves.

They answered that emphatically.

Manfredi provided the highlights of the early stages from the restart, first with a half-break and then a brave tackle to bundle Tom Lineham into touch - which required him to leave for treatment.

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In reply, Ratchford's dazzling solo work provided the bulk of Warrington's metres and threats, but they were pinned back for a spell thanks to great tackles by Morgan Escare - another to excel - and later Davies.

Warrington's best chance arrived just after the hour-mark, when a period of sustained pressure tested Wigan's line defence before Charnley spilled the ball. In reply, Escare scorched down field to spark another chance, but later flapped at a drop-goal attack.

Amid the end-to-end excitement, Tomkins struck a 47m penalty attempt wide, before Manfredi settled the encounter.

Ratchford was named man of the match, voted for by members of the press, although Manfredi, Escare and Chris Hill had strong shouts for the Harry Sunderland trophy.

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Wigan: Sam Tomkins; Dom Manfredi, Oliver Gildart, Dan Sarginson, Tom Davies; George Williams, Thomas Leuluai; Romain Navarrete, Sam Powell, Ben Flower, Joe Greenwood, John Bateman, Sean O’Loughlin. Subs: Morgan Escare, Ryan Sutton, Liam Farrell, Tony Clubb.

Warrington: Stefan Ratchford; Tom Lineham, Bryson Goodwin, Toby King, Josh Charnley; Kevin Brown, Tyrone Roberts; Chris Hill, Daryl Clark, Mike Cooper, Bodene Thompson, Jack Hughes, Ben Westwood. Subs: Joe Philbin, Ben Murdoch-Masila, George King, Dec Patton

Referee: Robert Hicks

Half-time: 64,892

Attendance: 64,892

Harry Sunderland trophy winner (man of the match): Stefan Ratchford