Bradford are becoming specialists in heroic failure, writes Dave Hadfield. After their defeat in the Challenge Cup final in April, they again played a full part in a classic match on Saturday only to finish empty-handed.
The Bulls looked the more convincing team in this pulsating Premiership semi-final, but it will be Wigan who play at Old Trafford on Sunday, because of the continuing ability of Shaun Edwards to seize on any scraps made fleetingly available.
Edwards' four tries were the difference between two sides full of attacking invention and defensive frailty. At least two were the product of startling pace from a player approaching 30 and with a dodgy knee.
Take Edwards' opportunism out of the equation and Bradford would have been holding a farewell for departing coach, Brian Smith, at Manchester United. The qualities with which he has imbued them - especially a resilience and ability to attack across the full width of the field - were always in evidence.
But so was Wigan's anxiety to avoid a season without a trophy. It all made for a spectacle which had Edwards marvelling at rugby league's failure to grab the imagination of the whole nation.
By contrast, his successor as Wigan captain, Andy Farrell, said that, when it came to perennial Wigan strengths such as controlling the ball and keeping their shape in defence, their performance had been rubbish. It truly is a funny old game - because both of them were right.
Wigan: Radlinski; Ellison, Tuigamala, Connolly, Robinson; H Paul, Edwards; Cowie, Hall, O'Connor, Haughton, Cassidy, Farrell. Substitutes used: Skerrett, Barrow.
Bradford Bulls: Cook; Tamani, Calland, Loughlin, Scales; Bradley, R Paul; Fairbank, Lowes, McDermott, Nickle, Dwyer, McNamara. Substitutes used: Graham, Donougher, Tomlinson, Medley.
Referee: D Campbell (Widnes).Reuse content