Maguire proves the guiding light as revitalised Wigan roll back the years

Wigan 22 St Helens 10

Michael Maguire was reluctant to talk in such romantic terms, but even he admits that he could have inaugurated a new Wigan dynasty.

The club that was so emphatically the dominant force in the domestic game in the 1980s and early 1990s had not won the Super League title since 1998. It is no accident that it has happened on Maguire's watch. What he lacks in colourful quotability, he has more than made up for with his organisation of his troops and his attention to detail. He has made the tough decisions and got them right, be it in switching Sam Tomkins to full-back or in leaving out established players in favour of relative novices.

The team that won at Old Trafford on Saturday is full of young talent that is capable of maturing and improving over the next few years. On top of that, Wigan are bringing over three proven stars from Maguire's old club, the Melbourne Storm. The only conclusion is that they will be stronger next season than this.

"If we keep working as hard as we have been, hopefully other opportunities will come," Maguire said."The boys are a hungry bunch and there's no reason why the club can't continue to move forward."

Wigan will start next season, however, without their Man of Steel, Pat Richards, who tore his Achilles tendon late in the first half and will be out for six months.

Apart from that, Saturday night at Old Trafford was just about perfect for the team and the fans in cherry and white. They took control early on with two tries from Martin Gleeson and never lost it. Gleeson and others, like Stuart Fielden, have recovered their best form in the latter stages of the season, which could pose some interesting questions for the England coach, Steve McNamara, before he names his Four Nations squad today.

At the other end of the scale, youngsters like Michael McIlorum – preferred to Mark Riddell in the starting line-up in a typical Maguire move – and Liam Farrell might have put themselves not too far from a seat on the plane. Throw in the obvious selections, like the Tomkins brothers and Sean O'Loughlin, and the national squad will have a Wigan flavour reminiscent of the great days.

Also in the tournament, but playing for New Zealand, will be Thomas Leuluai, the Harry Sunderland winner as man of the match at Old Trafford after being one of Wigan's unsung heroes all year long."He is the type of player who makes my job very easy," said Maguire of the scrum-half's characteristically busy performance.

As for Saints, it was a miserable way for Keiron Cunningham to end a distinguished career. Even in the twilight of his playing days, he had been their touchstone in the play-offs, but he had one of his least effective games on Saturday. St Helens were at their best, in fact, when James Roby was on the field, but they never built on the Andrew Dixon try that cut the deficit to 10 points before half-time.

In the second half, they made too many basic errors and conceded too many soft penalties to give themselves a chance of bouncing back. That means that Mick Potter will leave after two seasons with no trophies – a unique fate for a St Helens coach in the Super League era. "It could have been worse. We could have come 14th," Potter said of Saints' fourth Grand Final defeat in a row, adding that he had few regrets about what he had done at the club.

Nor should he have many. Potter is leaving the club a legacy of a fine crop of young players who have developed under his tutelage. The trouble on Saturday was that, without his half-back pairing of the injured Leon Pryce and Kyle Eastmond, he did not have enough direction in the middle of the park, even though Jonny Lomax and Matty Smith tried their hardest. It would have taken a St Helens side at their very best to have stopped Wigan – and they were well short of that.

Wigan will play St George Illawarra in next year's World Club Challenge after the merged club won their first NRL Grand Final, by beating the Sydney Roosters 32-8. The Roosters led 8-6 at half-time, but two tries from Jason Nightingale turned the tide, leaving Brian Smith still looking for his first title after 27 years of coaching.

St Helens: Wellens; Foster, Gidley, Meli, Lomax; Wilkin, Smith, Graham, Cunningham, Hargreaves, Soliola, Flannery, Puletua. Replacements: Roby, Clough, Dixon, Emmitt.

Wigan: S. Tomkins; Goulding, Gleeson, Carmont, Richards; Deacon, Leuluai, Fielden, McIlorum, Coley, Hansen, J. Tomkins, S. O'Loughlin. Replacements: Prescott, Riddell, Paleaaesina, Farrell.

Referee: R Silverwood (Dewsbury)

St Helens: Wellens; Foster, Gidley, Meli, Lomax; Wilkin, Smith, Graham, Cunningham, Hargreaves, Soliola, Flannery, Puletua. Replacements: Roby, Clough, Dixon, Emmitt.

Wigan: S. Tomkins; Goulding, Gleeson, Carmont, Richards; Deacon, Leuluai, Fielden, McIlorum, Coley, Hansen, J. Tomkins, S. O'Loughlin. Replacements: Prescott, Riddell, Paleaaesina, Farrell.

Referee: R Silverwood (Dewsbury)

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Extras
indybest
Travel
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Sport
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
football
News
Ronahi Serhat, a PKK fighter, in the Qandil Mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Poet’s corner: Philip Larkin at the venetian window of his home in 1958
booksOr caring, playful man who lived for others? A new book has the answer
Arts and Entertainment
Exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Metz - 23 May 2012
art
News
Matthew McConaughey and his son Levi at the game between the Boston Red Sox and the Houston Astros at Fenway Park on August 17, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts.
advertisingOscar-winner’s Lincoln deal is latest in a lucrative ad production line
Life and Style
Pick of the bunch: Sudi Pigott puts together roasted tomatoes with peppers, aubergines and Labneh cheese for a tomato-inspired vegetarian main dish
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'
film
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape