Ben Flower Wigan punch: Forward shown red card in Super League Grand Final after attack on Lance Hohaia

Welshman becomes the first player to be sent-off in Grand Final history

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The Independent Online

Wigan suffered two major blows when hooker Michael McIlorum was ruled out of the First Utility Super League Grand Final with a fractured eye socket before kick-off, and Ben Flower soon joined him after he became the first player to be sent-off in Grand Final history.

England international McIlorum suffered the injury in last Friday's 16-12 semi-final win over Warrington and, although he was said to be keen to take his place in the team to face St Helens at Old Trafford, a Wigan spokesman said the club was not prepared to take a risk and he was ruled out by the club doctor.

Utility player Sam Powell took McIlorum's place in the Warriors' starting line-up, with George Williams going onto the bench for his first appearance for two months.

But the match was thrown on its head when Wigan forward Flower completely lost the plot as he was banished down the tunnel for two blatant punches.

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Referee Phil Bentham had little option but to brandish the red card after the Wales international knocked St Helens stand-off Lance Hohaia to the ground, perhaps in frustration after knocking the ball on with a try beckoning, and then proceeded to strike his defenceless opponent with a right hook to his face.

Hohaia was helped from the field dazed while Wigan were left to play for 77 minutes with 12 men, although they took the lead with Matty Smith's 17th-minute penalty.

Hohaia was spotted returning to the St Helens bench to a round of applause form the crowd, although his face was visibly bruised and bloodied.

St Helens coach Nathan Brown was able to name an unchanged team for his last match in charge as he prepares to return to Australia with his young family.

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