Wigan Warriors' Betfred Super League title defence was finally ended on a huge anti-climax as they crashed 32-0 to the season's surprise package Wakefield Trinity in the final Super 8s match.
The 2016 champions went into the game needing an unlikely 90-point victory margin to pip St Helens to a semi-final spot, but produced an uninspiring performance to be nilled for the first time this season as tries from Ben Jones-Bishop, Jacob Miller, Sam Williams, Scott Grix and Keegan Hirst - plus six goals from Liam Finn - handed Wakefield a comfortable win.
Trinity's second win of the year over the Warriors enabled them to leapfrog their visitors in the final table and condemn Shaun Wane's men to a sixth-place finish, their worst since 2009.
Team song in full flow!👏🏼 pic.twitter.com/OK9J3s5gEL— Wakefield Trinity (@WTrinityRL) September 23, 2017
Wakefield threatened to claim a semi-final place of their own for much of the season and, although narrow late-season losses proved costly, a fifth-place finish is a highly-creditable achievement for Chris Chester, who was chosen by Wigan boss Shaun Wane as his pick for Super League coach of the year. The victory rounded off a good week for Wakefield after the local council unveiled plans to build a new stadium which will enable the club to stay at Belle Vue.
"That was way below our standards," said Wane. "There are no excuses, it was not not good enough. We played like it was a pre-season game. At the minute I am fuming but in two weeks' time, in the cold light of day, I may need to re-check myself.
"We've won a World Club, got to a final and nearly got to the semis but we've had too many bad spells. With the injuries, no club would have dealt with what we've dealt with but the poor performances were way off."
What a season! Thank you for your support throughout 2017 and we cannot wait to see you next season. pic.twitter.com/rhKNoAjS82— Wakefield Trinity (@WTrinityRL) September 23, 2017
Wakefield head of rugby John Kear said: "This is a benchmark. When I was here before and we finished fifth, we let ourselves down the year after but I feel this group is evolving.
"We didn't want to finish with a whimper, we wanted to finish with a bang and we did that. I thought we were outstanding today. We told them basically to go out and enjoy themselves. It meant a lot to get fifth, finishing above Wigan is a feat in itself."