6th November 2020, 22:18 | super_league
Wigan Warriors overcame stern resistance from Huddersfield Giants to secure a 19-6 victory in the last match of the regular Betfred Super League season at Headingley and claim the League Leaders’ Shield for the first time since 2012.
It was a first trophy for coach Adrian Lam as the Warriors denied arch rivals St Helens to earn a week off and a home tie in the play-off semi-finals in a fortnight’s time.
It was a fitting way for long-serving scrum-half Thomas Leuluai to mark his 300th game for the club as Wigan stepped up their bid for the big prize.
But they were forced to do it the hard way after Huddersfield, who handed a debut to Ireland international forward Ronan Michael, went toe to toe with them for an hour and kept a tight rein on dangerous full-back Bevan French.
The Giants’ gallant effort was ultimately in vain as they ended the season with five straight defeats under caretaker coach Luke Robinson.
Despite being down to his last 18 fit players, however, Robinson will keep his team on stand-by for the play-offs in the event that any of the six teams to finish above them are struck down by Covid.
Sam Powell, Jackson Hastings and Zak Hardaker touched down for Wigan, while Hardaker also added six points with the boot and Hastings scored a late drop goal.
After falling 6-0 behind, Huddersfield initially pulled level through Sam Wood's try, converted by Aidan Sezer, before Wigan pulled away in the second half.
Salford Red Devils, meanwhile, held off a tremendous fightback from Wakefield Trinity to secure a 28-20 success and end the Super League season with a third successive win.
The Coral Challenge Cup runners-up played some delightful rugby to establish a 22-4 half-time lead at Headingley, but Trinity stung them with three tries in 16 minutes, two of them from forward Kelepi Tanginoa, to set up a nerve-jangling finish.
Back-row forward Tyrone McCarthy then made sure his team-mate Mark Flanagan would end his career on a winning note when he grabbed the clinching try nine minutes from the end.
It was also a fitting way for England centre Kallum Watkins to mark the 300th match of his career on the ground where he made his name as Salford climbed above their opponents to finish the year in ninth place in the table.
The game was a dead rubber after a decision in the build-up to dock the Red Devils three wins for a breach of insolvency regulations killed off any lingering hopes of them making the extended play-offs.