Wigan Warriors coach Shaun Wane applauded his side for proving the doubters wrong as they fought back from 14 points down to clinch an historic Super League and Challenge Cup double.
Three Warrington scores in seven first-half minutes asked big questions of Wigan, but Darrell Goulding, Michael McIlorum, Josh Charnley, Blake Green and Pat Richards all replied with tries.
The Warriors become the first side to achieve the double since St Helens in 2006 and Wane took the opportunity to hit back at his critics.
“I was expecting some apologies to be honest about how we’ve been doubted all year,” he said. “I can’t tell you how proud I am.
“I told the players a few home truths at half-time because we had not been at our best, but the character and mental toughness they showed was fantastic.
“We’ve had some shocking injuries this year and had to really tough it out towards the end, and to finish fourth with two cups, it has to come down to the players.
“What they’ve done is outstanding and just I’m so proud to be associated with them.”
Australia-bound Richards, playing in his final game before heading back to NRL-side Wests Tigers, opened the scoring for Wigan on 12 minutes with a routine penalty kick.
Joel Monaghan hit back for Warrington on 22 minutes, timing his jump perfectly to snatch Lee Briers’ high bomb from the fingertips of Richards and crash down over the white-wash.
Wire smelled blood and Simon Grix bundled over three minutes later, sneaking through the Wigan line from two yards out before Stefan Ratchford kicked his first conversion of the night.
Warrington’s Ben Westwood, already on report for a swinging arm on Green, smashed through McIlorum for a third try on 28 minutes, before Ratchford stretched the gap to 14 points.
Try-scorer Monaghan was stretchered off the pitch three minutes later after knocking himself out mistiming a tackle on Richards, instead connecting heavily with his hip.
A lengthy delay ensued but the Cherry and Whites were clearly unaffected with Goulding finishing off a well-worked left-to-right Wigan move in the final first-half minute.
The Warriors came out fired-up after the break with hooker McIlroum producing a neat step at dummy-half to touch down within eight minutes, before Richards added the extras.
Super League’s record-breaking try-scorer Charnley completed the Wigan comeback on 53 minutes, touching down a Matty Smith grubber-kick before Richards’ two-pointer nudged the Warriors ahead.
By now it was one-way traffic and Green added a fourth score on 65 minutes, bursting through Adrian Morley to touch down between the sticks, providing a simple kick for Richards.
The Irish international bid farewell in style by converting his 169th Wigan try five minutes from time, casually touching down Sean O’Loughlin’s looping pass before taking his points tally to 14.
Wigan’s England duo Sam Tomkins and Lee Mossop also head Down Under next season and Wane, a big Manchester United fan, was delighted to send them off in style at Old Trafford.
“I’ve been a United fan since I was kid so to do it here is fantastic, I’m really, really pleased,” he added. “Theatre of Dreams? – it is a dream.
“I admire the players so much with the character and mental toughness they have to go out and do that against a really tough Warrington team.
“I’ve driven the players hard this year, I’ve been into them a few times and every time I have they’ve delivered.”
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