“Most boring final” – Why fans criticising Super League Grand Final have missed the point

Last night we saw Wigan Warriors defeat Catalans Dragons in a physical and tight Grand Final.

However, despite it being such a tight contest with fans on the edge of their seats throughout the game, many have been critical of the Grand Final.

After the game, fan comments included the likes of: “A difficult watch.”

Another said: “A difficult watch. Little risk, little flair. Catalans created nothing.”

Whilst one fan sarcastically said: “What a thriller…”

Another said: “What a dire game to watch. They need to sort the tackle and holding down out.”

Remarkably one fan said: “Most boring final in a long time.”

These comments are understandable put perhaps miss the undercurrent of what we saw.

Asides from some amazing moments in attack from the likes of Jai Field, Bevan French and Man of the Match Jake Wardle, we saw a masterclass from a pack rolling down field and a superb kicking game from Harry Smith pinning the French side down field.

That was the story of the second half, but the first half was enthralling not because it was an end to end game but rather because it was like a fight to the death which is why it was so gripping.

The 2023 Super League Grand Final sees Wigan Warriors and Catalans Dragons butt heads. The top two after the regular season level on points with one another and Champions St Helens.

This was the most apt Grand Final as Wigan chased a sixth Super League title and Catalans Dragons battled to become the first new team since 2004 to lift the Super League trophy.

Their appearance at Old Trafford made history itself as they became only the sixth different team to reach more than on Grand Final after Leeds Rhinos, Warrington Wolves, Bradford Bulls and St Helens as well as their opponents Wigan Warriors.

Thus, it was posed to be a historic Grand Final in which former Wigan star Sam Tomkins was set to play a huge role in what was his final ever game before retirement.

It was clear that we were set for a historic Grand Final in the opening exchanges with some big hits from both sides.

Siosiua Taukeiaho laid down an immediate marker with a big hit on Abbas Miski.

We saw a couple of close calls namely when Tyrone May carved through and kicked ahead for Tom Johnstone.

But the ball ran dead just before Johnstone could reach it or indeed before it bounced back and hit Field.

Then the big moment as Adam Keighran was sin binned. Keighran, who will join Wigan in 2024 to replace Toby King, lifted the man he will replace into a dangerous tackle.

King landed on his shoulder saving him from a red card. But he was still sin binned becoming only the second player to be sin binned in a Grand Final after Tommy Makinson for St Helens against the Dragons in 2021.

The decision came from video referee Chris Kendall and straight after it appeared that Wigan were about to score as Liam Farrell twisted and turned his way through a tackle.

But Sam Tomkins was on hand to deny the try and he repeated the feat again.

Wigan eventually took the lead when Catalans were down a man with a penalty from Harry Smith.

After surviving with 12 men the Dragons had a few wild moments with the ball down their left. Wigan withstood the pressure but eventually a penalty allowed Keighran to level matters.

Just before the break, a brilliant Jai Field break seemed set to deliver a try but Tom Johnstone produced a sensational try saving tackle to deny him. He was then on hand to gather a chip over the top before a brutal collision with the advertising boards.

At the start of the second half, Wigan started like a whirlwind. They broke down the right with Toby King with great cover defence stopping them.

Then another massive moment as Wigan broke down the left via Jake Wardle. He was tackled by Sam Tomkins but the defensive effort cost Catalans Tom Davies who was sin binned for holding Liam Marshall back.

The big attacks kept coming from Wigan with Jai Field breaking from deep and combining with Wardle and Farrell before breaking again but his offload to Bevan French who went in for a try was deemed forward.

But Wigan were not deterred and again the pace of Jai Field would prove decisive as he created the space for Jake Wardle to break yet again. This time he offloaded to Liam Farrell whose decisive offload gave the ball to Liam Marshall to score.

Then, crucially, Keighran was penalised for a high tackle on Tyler Dupree and Harry Smith extended the lead out to 10-2.