Wigan Warriors’ battling spirit will put them in contention for Super League Grand Final glory in the coming seasons, says coach Shaun Wane after Leeds came from behind twice to edge the game by two points at the weekend.
The Warriors overcame a 10-point deficit at half time to take a second-half lead, but it was not enough as Josh Walters crossed with a match-winning try with 15 minutes to go to put Leeds 22-20 up as they claimed the treble.
A gutted Wane could not hide his disappointment, particularly considering his side’s blistering start to the second half, but he spoke positively about the future.
“I’m finishing this season very, very proud,” he said.
“A lot of their (Leeds) players are coming to the end of an era there and we’ve got some young players coming through.
“Within that group we know what went on today, we’re a tight-knit group and we’ll come back stronger.
“It hurts like hell today, like nothing before, but we’ll be there for many years to come.”
Wane admitted it was the first half that let his side down while he was full of praise for the retiring Matty Bowen, who finished his career with a fantastic performance, scoring a try and four goals for his side.
“They started the game better than us. I thought we dominated the second half, but didn’t put enough points on the board to win the game.
“I was proud of the effort in the second half, we were just a little but dumb in the first half.
“He’s one of the best players I’ve ever dealt with,” Wane added of full-back Bowen, who wound up his career witout a Grand Final victory despite three final attempts.
“I know a lot of people say ‘he’s an even better bloke off the field’ but I don’t want to brush over that.
“He is one outstanding individual.”
When questioned on Leeds’ controversially-awarded Joel Moon Try, Wane’s minimal and muted response displayed his disappointment at the video-referee’s decision.
‘‘He gave it and its tough,’’ he said.
‘‘It’s happened, they’ve won it and you know well done to them.’’
For Leeds though, the victory marked the fairy-tale ending the Yorkshire side had dreamt of, as they sent the departing Kevin Sinfield, Jamie Peacock and Kylie Leuluai out on an almighty high, achieving Challenge Cup, League Leader’s Shield and Grand Final in the 2015 campaign.
Image courtesy of PA via YouTube, with thanks.