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Sam Tomkins’ career ends with Grand Final loss to his former side Wigan

Catalans Dragons came up short yet again.

Mark Staniforth
Saturday 14 October 2023 23:09 BST
Sam Tomkins played his final game at Old Trafford (Richard Sellers/PA)
Sam Tomkins played his final game at Old Trafford (Richard Sellers/PA) (PA Wire)

Sam Tomkins’ dream of ending his glittering career with one last Grand Final win was shattered by his former club as Wigan summoned a stirring second-half display to sink Catalans Dragons 10-2 at Old Trafford.

Liam Marshall grabbed the only try of the game to secure a hard-fought but ultimately comfortable win for Matt Peet’s men, sealing their sixth domestic showpiece and their first since 2018.

Tomkins, who was embraced by his friend and former team-mate, Wigan captain Liam Farrell at the final whistle, will head into retirement reflecting on a pair of yellow cards that effectively cost his side any chance of victory.

Adam Keighran was sin-binned midway through the first period and Tom Davies followed suit for an intentional block on Marshall in the second half as Catalans came up short for the second time in three years.

It was a tough night all round for Tomkins, who had been served an early reminder that he would be done no favours on his final appearance when he was taken out by Farrell in the process of punting a high ball forward in the third minute.

Catalans chiselled most of the early momentum without seriously threatening to breach the Wigan line, the dangerous Tom Johnstone coming closest to springing through a gap, before Keighran’s yellow card for a tip-tackle on Kai Pearce-Paul stalled their progress.

Moments later, Farrell fashioned his side’s first chance when he looked set to swivel over on the left only to be denied by a brilliant try-saving tackle from Mitchell Pearce, like Tomkins playing his last game before retirement.

Instead Wigan settled for edging in front through Harry Smith’s 25th-minute penalty after a mistake by Catalans loose forward Ben Garcia, only for the French side to level matters shortly before the break when Keighran kicked two after Wigan were caught offside.

Jai Field’s first foray forward was brutally halted by Johnstone as the first period neared its conclusion, and Smith’s ambitious long-range drop-goal attempt on the hooter ensured the scores were level at the interval.

But Wigan looked a different beast from the opening moments of the second half when Toby King streaked down the left flank then Field, largely dormant in the first period, was bundled into touch on the opposite flank.

Davies’ sin-binning for holding back Marshall in the process proved costly for Catalans, and the fired-up Field almost presented Bevan French with the game’s first try in the 49th minute.

He was given a second chance to scamper deep into Catalans territory after a fortunate deflection off Farrell’s foot but Field’s final pass to send his team-mate over the line was ruled forward by referee Liam Moore.

Two minutes later Wigan made their increasingly inevitable breakthrough when Jake Wardle twisted into the Catalans 20 and off-loaded to Farrell, who in turn served up Marshall to trot in for the opening try.

Smith’s conversion ensured Peet’s men chiselled an 8-2 advantage as the game reached the hour mark, and Keighran’s high tackle on Tyler Dupree gifted Smith the chance to lift Wigan into a two-score lead.

It was one they never looked likely to relinquish, sealing a dream success for Peet, who had started out as a volunteer coach with the club’s academy six years ago where he began his ascent to the head coach role.

And it meant no glorious finale for Tomkins, who had inspired Wigan to each of their three previous Grand Final wins, but came up short on a night when he had wanted it the most.

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