Wigan coach Shaun Wane hailed his side's best performance of the season as they demolished reigning champions Leeds 28-6 in a one-sided Grand Final re-match.
Wane had to re-shuffle his team before kick-off after George Williams pulled out during the warm-up with a hamstring injury, bringing in 20-year-old Nick Gregson for his debut and switching skipper Sean O'Loughlin, who began the first three games at prop, to stand-off and it took the Warriors an hour to find their rhythm.
They led only 6-0 after 55 minutes thanks to John Bateman's first-half try, but eventually cut loose, adding further scores through Anthony Gelling, Dom Manfredi, Oliver Gildart and Tony Clubb.
"We had to earn it in the first half," Wane said. "We tried to force it, but in the second half I thought we were ruthless. There were some good attacking plays.
"We had some major disruption losing George and Lockers going into the halves and that makes it a lot more enjoyable. The Hull game took a lot of out us, we've hardly done any training this week.
"That was still a good Leeds side. I thought our back five were good and our middles were really good. It was a pleasing performance. There are some things from the first half we've got to fix, but we'll put in an 80-minute performance soon.
"It was our best performance of the season. The players answered all my questions and went out in the second half and delivered. We had a young Wigan kid making his debut and we had his dad in the changing room with us singing our song.
"When you consider the players we've got to come back, we're in good shape."
A fifth win from five starts enables Wigan to draw level with early Super League leaders Widnes, their next opponents at the DW Stadium next Thursday, while a fourth defeat leaves injury-hit Leeds languishing in ninth place.
Leeds coach Brian McDermott is not panicking yet, but he admits his side were outplayed, even when they trailed only 6-0 at the break.
"It probably should have been about 24-0 at half-time," McDermott said. "Wigan let us off the hook.
"I thought we were way off from the start. The absentees may have had some effect, but the nucleus of our team were off and defensively we were nowhere near (good enough).
"There comes a point in time when numerically you don't want to give yourselves a mountain to climb. I'm confident we will get where we need to be but we're not there yet."
McDermott was encouraged by the debut of Australian hooker Beau Falloon and the comeback of second rower Jamie Jones-Buchanan, but especially delighted with the performance of full-back Zak Hardaker.
"A few fellows spilled their guts," he said. "Whether we've won or lost this year, Zak has been throwing his body into everything, we just need a few people to take a leaf out of his book."
The fallen champions received some encouragement from Wane, who tipped them to bounce back.
"I've got a lot of respect for Leeds," Wane said. "They are a good club and they've a good coach, that makes the win even more enjoyable.
"Once they start getting Danny McGuire and their other big players back, there is no question in my mind they will be up there challenging for all the trophies in the end."News Now - Sport News