Wigan maul Hull to set up O'Loughlin farewell in Grand Final

By Sports Desk November 19, 2020

Wigan Warriors powered through to another Super League Grand Final with a 29-2 thumping of Hull FC - setting up a grandstand conclusion to the career of club captain Sean O'Loughlin. 

Tries from Joe Burgess, Harry Smith, Zak Hardaker, Jake Bibby and Bevan French saw Wigan swamp their opponents in the first semi-final. 

St Helens and Catalans Dragons will do battle on Friday for the right to face the Cherry and Whites in next week's trophy match. 

O'Loughlin, who turns 38 next week, will retire at the end of the season and was thrilled to play his part in a resounding victory at the DW Stadium. 

The one-club man made his Wigan debut in 2002 and has been part of four Super League title-winning teams, most recently two years ago. 

To make it five would be a dream way to bow out. 

O'Loughlin said on Sky Sports: "I'm just overwhelmed we've reached a Grand Final. 

"It's weird playing here empty, a strange feeling, but I'm very honoured I got one more opportunity to play one more game here. Bring on next week. 

"It'd be special [to win the Grand Final]. There's not going to be an opportunity to celebrate with fans, but to get one more trophy would make it special."

Burgess put the finishing touch to a string of slick passes as he dashed through in the left corner for Wigan's first try in the 27th minute, before his kick through was grasped by Smith for the home side's second. 

The game was testy at times, with fractious exchanges between players despite it being played behind closed doors. 

Hardaker and Bibby put Wigan out of sight before French raced through in the 79th minute for his 13th try of the season, completing a polished performance. 

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    310 – He also holds the record for most wins in premiership matches. Of those victories, 242 were as skipper – the most as a captain.

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    1,295 – Smith stands alone for goals kicked in the NRL – 353 more than any other player in premiership history.

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    3 – Smith ends his NRL career with Premierships in 2012, 2017 and 2020. It could have been five, but the Storm were stripped of Grand Final triumphs in 2007 and 2009 due to salary-cap breaches.

    42 – A Maroons veteran, he is the most-capped player in State of Origin history. Smith first appeared for Queensland in 2003.

    56 – Smith represented Australia more than fifty times. Only Darren Lockyer (59) managed more than Smith for the Kangaroos.

    33 – Lockyer (38) is the only player to have captained Australia on more occasions than Smith, who led the country to Rugby League World Cup glory in 2013 and 2017.

    2 – Smith was crowned the NRL's best and fairest player in 2006 and 2017. Only Thurston (four) and Andrew Johns (three) earned more honours.

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