Wigan Warriors put themselves 5 points clear at the top of the Stobart Super League table with a comfortable 48-10 victory over Hull in a game in which the home side did not have to get out of first gear against their depleted opponents from East Yorkshire.
The game was billed as the ‘Big One’ by the Wigan club’s marketing team and a crowd of 17,736, the highest for a fixture between the two clubs since their famous 1985 Challenge Cup final meeting at Wembley, were in attendance at the DW Stadium. Wigan played without stand-off Brett Finch and gave a debut to youngster Sam Powell, who played alongside Matty Smith in the halves in a halfback partnership which demonstrated coach Shaun Wane’s plans for the future, with the departures of Antipodeans Finch and Thomas Leuluai at the end of this season.
It took just over 60 seconds for the Warriors to put themselves on the scoreboard with Sam Tomkins (pictured) picking up the game’s first try. After receiving a fortuitous penalty for a ball steal in the first set in the match after it appeared Gareth Hock had simply dropped the ball in collision, Tomkins dummied and danced his way through to go over under the sticks with Josh Charnley’s conversion making it 6-0.
Less than 5 minutes later Wigan were 10-0 up as a well-worked try which saw the ball moved across to Tomkins in the Hull half to set the fullback onto another break, before offloading out to George Carmont who found Gareth Hock on his inside to post the home side’s second., the conversion attempt hitting the post.
The third try came on 16 minutes with another typical attacking move which exploited the weak Hull defence. The ball was again moved through hands with new scrumhalf Matty Smith finding Tomkins chiming into the line, whose cut out ball to Charnley was taken on an angled run for the winger to go over to score for 14-0.
The Black & Whites, who have been forced to bring in new faces on loan deals due to the ever-growing injury list which has disrupted their season, were struck another blow when Kirk Yeaman was stretchered off in the 23rd minute. The England international, after attempting to put Jamie Foster in at the corner, went over on his ankle with what is initially believed to be ligament damage which could end the centre’s season.
Minutes later Wigan added to the visitors’ woes as Charnley got the hosts’ fourth making the most of an overlap created in the right-hand corner. 18-0 down, the visitors consistently made errors in their brief haunts in the Wigan half which helped Wigan to constantly put them on the back foot. However,several handling errors by the home side kept FC in the game, and in the 33rd minute Hull eventually took advantage to score their first try. Good play on the previous tackle drew the Wigan defence in and as the ball was spread right, Ryan McGoldrick’s accurate cut out ball put young winger Tom Lineham in for 18-4.
However, Hull were unable to make further inroads, demonstrating further panic play with ball in hand to epitomise the lack of attacking threat and organisation. And just before halftime Smith’s grubber kick found Tomkins beneath the sticks with the fullback diving over, in spite being possibly obstructed by McGoldrick. Charnley, who didn’t have the best of nights with the boot, slotted over the routine goal for 24-4 at the break.
3 minutes into the second period, Tomkins put down a glorious chance for a second try after creating space for Harrison Hansen but being unable to take the Samoan’s inside pass.
Charnley however, brought up his hat-trick in the 50th minute after a counter-attack following a period of Hull pressure. Jack Hughes made a break down the right hand side vefore finding the wingman on his inside to race in untouched from 50 metres to make it 30-4.
Ex-Saint and Salford man Matty Smith almost got on the scoring act with a solo effort, only for the video referee to spot that he had lost the ball over the line under heavy pressure from Tom Briscoe. A few minutes later Jamie Foster, on loan at Hull from St Helens also had a try chalked off by the video referee as he had a foot in touch before putting the ball down in the corner under pressure.
Liam Farrel capitalised on Smith’s dummy and break in the 64th minute for 36-4 to rubber stamp the 2 league points. Then Wigan prop Epalahame Luaki had to leave the field after feeling the force of a Joe Westerman shoulder charge which on the replays showed to make contact with Luaki’s head. The shoulder charge has once again become a big talking point in the game in recent times, after Tony Puletua’s dismissal for Saints a fortnight ago in Perpignan, although referee James Child said he did not see the point of contact and put the incident on report.
On 69 minutes Lee Mossop was put through a gap although he failed to pass inside for a certain try. However, Michael McIlorum went straight over from dummy half to take Wigan to the 40-point mark. Charnley’s goal making it 42-4.
Brett Seymour scored a consolation for Hull before debutant Sam Powell’s show and go gave the young halfback his first senior try on debut to cap off a simple 48-10 win for the league leaders. Wigan now face nearest chasers Warrington next Saturday, who themselves have a cruch encounter with St Helens on Monday night as the race towards the play-offs continues.
- It was revealed yesterday in a surprise announcement that Super League Europe had made a bid to Bradford Bulls to buy the club out of administration on agreement from the other Super League clubs. The bid sees the sport’s governing body intervening to fulfil its promise to see the struggling club through the rest of this season. The long-term future of the Bradford club, assuming the bid is accepted by the administrator, after the end of the season is still to be unknown with the purchase of SLE seen as a short-term situation. Two previous offers from the ABC Consortium were considered unacceptable by the Rugby Football League due to the conditions of the bids that were made. In some quarters the offer from SLE has raised serious questions from some quarters over the game setting a dangerous precedent in order to help salvage one of its elite clubs drawing on the recent sitaution with Glasgow Rangers in Scottish football who were demoted to the third division for next year. However, it does indicate the sport’s and its clubs’ willingness to come to the assistance of one of its fellow members for the perceived good of the game. Further news of the long-term future for the West Yorkshire club will undoubtedly follow in the coming week and months but the league can be rest assured that the Bulls will definitely fulfill the rest of their fixtures for 2012.