Grand Final: Wigan Warriors looking for final redemption

Wigan Warriors
Wigan led 6-2 at half-time in last year's final, before tries from Sia Soliola and Tommy Makinson won it for Saints
First Utility Super League Grand Final
Venue: Old Trafford Date: Saturday 10 October Kick-off: 18:00 BST
Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra (first half), Radio 5 live (second half), BBC Radio Leeds, BBC Radio Manchester and online; live text commentary on BBC Sport website; highlights on BBC Two (Sunday, 17:00 BST).

Almost a year to the day since their loss to rivals St Helens in the 2014 Grand Final, Wigan Warriors are looking to right some wrongs in 2015.

Media playback is not supported on this device

Flower sent off for punch as Saints win

Shaun Wane's team were denied a second consecutive title last year as they slumped to a 14-6 defeat at Old Trafford, after prop Ben Flower was sent off in only the second minute of the game.

Following a slow start this season, the Cherry and Whites recovered in style to finish second in Super League, missing out on the League Leaders' Shield only on points difference in the last minute to Leeds.

A 32-8 win against Huddersfield in their semi-final set up a meeting with the Rhinos, where they will attempt to banish the memory of their defeat 364 days earlier.

It will be a third final in a row for Wigan, who will be hoping to stop Leeds completing a domestic treble of Challenge Cup, League Leaders' Shield and Grand Final winners.

The Comeback Kid

Wigan Warriors prop Ben Flower
Ben Flower is the only man to have been sent off in a Super League Grand Final

Few players will feel they have more to prove than prop Flower.

He was sent off for punching Lance Hohaia twice and left his side short on numbers for 78 minutes of the Grand Final.

The fallout from his actions dominated the aftermath of the defeat and resulted in a six-month suspension, the longest ban in Super League history.

Flower returned to action in a victory over Warrington in April, and since then the Wales international has been a key figure in the Warriors' run to the Grand Final.

The 27-year-old scored the opening try in the semi-final win over Huddersfield, and Saturday's final gives him chance to take the headlines for the right reasons.

Third time lucky?

Wigan Warriors full-back Matty Bowen
Matty Bowen also lost in the 2005 NRL Grand Final with North Queensland Cowboys

While Flower will have many more chances to win trophies, full-back Matty Bowen is looking to end his career on a high.

The former Australia international is retiring at the end of the season after 14 years in the game, but has lost in both of his Grand Final appearances to date - one each in Super League and the NRL.

"You dream of playing in Grand Finals when you're a young kid and having that ring on your finger," he told BBC Radio Manchester.

"Obviously we get our opportunity this weekend but Leeds won't just go to Old Trafford and lay down. It's going to be a tough game.

"Everyone keeps saying 'third time lucky' but I don't want to say that - I just want to get out there and do my job the best I can.

"Whatever happens at the end of the 80 minutes, if it was to be then so be it. I can't wait, I'm excited."

Wigan's young gun

Oliver Gildart
Oliver Gildart only made his Wigan debut on 21 August at Warrington

At the other end of the scale to Bowen is 19-year-old centre Oliver Gildart, who is set to go head-to-head with Leeds and England centre Kallum Watkins in only his 10th career start.

The son of former Wigan second-rower Ian Gildart made his Super League debut on loan at Salford in April, before breaking into Shaun Wane's line-up in August.

"It's been mad," said the teenager. "A couple of months ago I never would have thought it but everything has come at once.

"I was stood in the stands at Old Trafford last year cheering the boys on and I always dreamed of playing in a game like this.

"It's come around so fast. It's a bit surreal really, but it's an unbelievable feeling.

"I'm a massive Manchester United fan, I grew up supporting them and I never thought I'd play at Old Trafford, but it has come around this week so I'm buzzing."

Top Stories