In unusually hot conditions for an October
day, this was an excellent final between the sides that
finished the regular season 1st and 2nd. Warrington had
beaten Wigan home and away during the regular season so
this was no certain win for the young Warriors that were
aiming for their fourth second grade title in a row.
Under 20s coach Darren Fletcher named the same starting 13
that took on Wakefield in the semi final last weekend, with
the only change on the bench being Matt Crow replacing
The match proved to be a war of attrition
right from the off with the two packs giving their all
against each other. Wigan had an early try disallowed but I
think Warrington just about deserved to take the lead when
they scored in the 14th minute.
Goulding, son of the ex Wigan player with the same name,
claimed the try after Ben Evans offload sent him over close
to the posts. Ryan Shaw converted for 6-0.
match was really tight but for me it was always edging
towards Warrington scoring again rather than Wigan getting
back into the game. But Warrington suffered a blow on the
half hour when winger Chris Fleming had to leave the field
following a high tackle from opposite Wigan winger Jayden
Sandford. It came after a bomb was put up towards
Sandford's wing and he accidentally caught Fleming when
trying to jump for the ball. It was more of a flick than a
dangerous high tackle but yet Fleming still left the pitch
and did not return.
I'm not totally sure if that injury turned the
match but all of a sudden Wigan clicked into gear and quick
as a flash they'd scored two back to back tries. Clean
breaks had been rare for both sides but on 34 minutes Ryan
King shot out of dummy half to get away. He'd got 40 metres
or so but with full back Jordan Burke coming to close him
down, he had to let Stefan Marsh finish the move under the
posts. Marsh injured himself getting the ball down and that
was his game done as well. Jack Murphy converted to make it
Matt Crow went on to replace Marsh at
centre. I was hoping he'd combine for a try with Matty
Russell, so I could write about a Russell Crow combination,
but alas it wasn't to be.
Anyway.......whilst King had made the break
for the first Wigan try, he was the support player for the
second. Jack Hughes had made the break up the right wing
and he offloaded to send King over in the corner. Murphy
failed to convert though, but Wigan had the lead for the
first time at 10-6.
That lead didn't last long
though with Wigan perhaps guilty of switching off so close
to half time. Ryan Shaw did a clever kick off for
Warrington when he grubbered forward into open space and
won the race to the ball. Great vision! Seconds later,
James Mendieka sent James Saltonstall over in the right
corner. Shaw failed to convert so the half time score was
level at 10 each.
The next 20 minutes continued
to be a hard fought forwards contest, the only break coming
from a Murphy penalty goal on 49 minutes to make it 14-12.
Personally I was frustrated that coach Fletcher wasn't
throwing Liam Carberry onto the field but when he did, I
think this match turned towards a never in doubt Wigan win.
Carberry plays hooker normally but with Logan Tomkins still
remaining on the field I think he went on at Loose Forward.
It might have been coincidence, but we started to be a bit
more direct when he went on and the breaks followed off the
back of that.
To be fair we were bombing a few chances but
we did take one when Sandford scored in the left corner on
64 minutes. Murphy couldn't convert, so the lead was still
one score at 16-10.
Warrington though were now struggling to get
close to our line. Dom Crosby was excellent I thought and
well backed up by his front row partners Ben Davies, Tom
Spencer and Greg Burke.
But Wigan still needed to kill off the game
when it ticked down to the final ten minutes and the game
breaker came with 7 minutes to go. Hughes went on a lovely
diagonal run to score from thirty metres and Murphy
converted to make it 22-10. The result was rubber stamped
three minutes later when he added a penalty goal for 24-10.
Warrington to their credit kept going and scored a good
consolation in the 79th minute. Saltonstall broke down the
middle and he chipped ahead then outpaced the chasing cover
to collect superbly and score in the right corner. Shaw
converted well off the touchline, but although four minutes
of injury time were added, they never got a chance to score
So Wigan won to take this title for the fourth
year in a row but Warrington shouldn't be too down hearted
about this defeat. The extra experience probably did the
trick for Wigan in the final quarter with 9 of our 17
having played in this Grand Final last year. It was a great
contest overall and that it always pleasing to see at Under
20s level, because it isn't always the case!