Wigan. . . . .25
Castleford. . .8
JOHN MONIE'S last game at Central Park ended in a way thoroughly in keeping with four years of unprecedented coaching success as Wigan qualified for yet another final.
Once the hangover from Wembley was sweated out, Wigan took a crucial lead with two tries before half-time and were bound for Old Trafford next Sunday, where victory in the Premiership final would make them the first side ever to win all the major trophies in a single season.
Shaun Edwards began the move that broke through with a pass to Andrew Farrell, who gave the return pass for Edwards to claim his 46th try of the season.
For their second try, four minutes later, Dean Bell sent Jason Robinson weaving through and although the winger was caught, Wigan kept their momentum going and Andrew Farrar turned the ball inside neatly for Farrell to storm in.
Castleford gave their departing coach, Darryl Van de Velde, a few examples of the erratic play that has driven him to distraction at times over the last four years, repeatedly working their way into good positions and then giving the ball to Wigan.
Graham Steadman's attempts to get them back into the game came to nothing and Wigan should have sown it up when Sam Panapa went on his own after a 40-yard run instead of passing to Martin Offiah.
Wigan began to regret that when Tony Smith was awarded a penalty try for obstruction. Steadman's goal put Castleford within six points but again their fatal tendency to make glaring errors undid them.
Wigan won a scrum and, on the last tackle, Edwards worked the blind side cleverly and Mike Forshaw, crashed over. Botica landed a typical conversion from the touchline and the brief alarm was over. Offiah added a final try three minutes from the end and Botica a drop goal in injury time.
Wigan: Hampson (Cowie, 48); Robinson, Bell (Forshaw, 36), Farrar, Offiah, Botica, Edwards; Cowie (Cassidy, 27), Dermott, Skerrett, Panapa, Farrell, Clarke.
Castleford: Steadman; Middleton, Smith, Anderson, Ellis, Coyne, Ford; Crooks (Fisher, 49; Hay, 36), Southernwood, England (Sampson, 41), Fisher, Ketteridge, Nikau.
Referee: S Cummings (Widnes).