Wigan coach Matt Peet paid tribute to the whole club after they lifted the Super League Leaders Shield following a tough 10-6 win at near neighbours Leigh.
Wigan looked to be on course for a routine victory when they scored two tries midway through the first half, Jai Field and Jake Wardle crossing in quick succession with Harry Smith converting the first to give the Warriors a 10-0 lead.
But Leigh fought back with a try just before half-time from Lachlan Lam, taking the final pass from Kai O’Donnell to score under the posts. Ben Reynolds added the conversion to make it 6-10 at the break.
There were no points scored in the second half – both sides having tries disallowed contentiously in a frantic spell midway through the half. Field was unlucky to see his effort chalked off while Oliver Gildart was denied a try against his former club by the video referee.
“It’s a great achievement,” said Peet. “It’s a fantastic honour and nobody can take that away from us.
“It’s a great pat on the back for the whole club, from the academy to the first team and all the backroom staff. It was a great effort tonight.”
The League Leaders Shield could have ended up with Wigan, Catalans or St Helens on a dramatic night but Peet said he was trying not to pay too much attention to everything going on elsewhere.
He said: “I wasn’t that concerned about the other games. I was just pleased with the performance from our team – it was a game which helps give us some momentum into the play-offs.
“It was a very intense game – the kind of intensity we haven’t had in games recently. So it’s perfect we got one like that under our belt.
“We had to go for 80 minutes and the game highlighted a few areas where we can improve. All in all it was a great night for us. I don’t think it was a fluent performance but games at this time of year are about guts and determination. It was a team effort.”
Defeat for Leigh means they dropped from fourth place to fifth – sending them to Hull KR in the play-offs, the team they beat in the Challenge Cup Final.
Leigh coach Adrian Lam said: “It was a great night for rugby league. It was a great game and a sell-out crowd. Congratulations to Wigan in picking up the League Leaders Shield.”
Despite the defeat, Lam was proud of his team’s effort on the night and also through the season.
He said: “I was very proud of them given the players we had missing. It was tough and physical, very close but we didn’t get the two points we needed.
“There were a couple of massive calls which went against us and they had a massive impact on us missing out on a home play-off game. By not having that game it will hurt us.
“Hull KR, we’ve played them four times this year, we have a fair feel of what they are. Like the rest of the year, there have been ups and downs and turns everywhere.
“We would have taken that at the start of the year. We have missed John Asiata for the last few games and will have a scan on him, whether he can play, but it doesn’t look good.
“I think the try which was disallowed, every rugby league supporter in the world would have given that try. I can’t put into words how much that hurt us.
“We didn’t build pressure but we found a way to hang in there. We didn’t have as much ball but we defended as well as any other team.”