Hull KR 26-14 Wigan Warriors
Hull KR strengthened their grip on a play-off position with a stunning 26-14 win over Wigan Warriors. Rovers were pegged back by the Warriors after a fast start but rallied superbly for the second week running to claim a first double over Wigan in Super League history.
It just had the feel of one of those special nights under the lights at Craven Park. New fan village Craven Streat got the fans in the mood and the volume went up another notch when the PA announcer informed the crowd that Neil Hudgell was staying on minutes before kick-off. As Hull FC were succumbing to a strong finish by Catalans Dragons in Perpignan, Rovers made a blistering start as they raced into a 16-0 lead.
It was far from plain sailing – it rarely is with the Robins – but they showed immense character yet again to recover from a shaky period that saw Wigan get back to within two points before half-time. The result gives KR breathing space in the battle for the play-offs and hammers home the message that Tony Smith’s side are genuine contenders for Old Trafford.
Wigan – one place above Rovers in fourth ahead of kick-off – never really recovered from the loss of Sam Powell to a concussion inside two minutes. A Jake Bibby error close to his own line set the tone for a sloppy start by the Warriors and they were ruthlessly punished by a Rovers outfit with their tails up.
Albert Vete scored his first Super League try at Leigh Centurions last week and he powered his way over again from close range, this time taking advantage of generous defending by the visitors. The Robins were playing with confidence backed by an enthusiastic home crowd and had a second when a long ball by Brad Takairangi created space on the right edge and Rowan Milnes finished following a break by Ethan Ryan. KR were in dreamland in the 17th minute when Ryan marked his return to the side with a superb try after picking Liam Marshall’s pocket from Milnes’ kick to the corner.
But Wigan worked their way into the game and took their first opportunity thanks to an acrobatic finish in the corner by Bibby. The momentum was suddenly with the Warriors and they were in again when Ben Crooks failed to gather Jackson Hastings’ high kick and the half-back pounced to put Marshall over.
It got worse for Rovers when captain Shaun Kenny-Dowall – an ever-present since joining the club – limped off with a serious-looking injury. Sensing blood, the Warriors carved out a well-worked third try as Oliver Gildart’s flick pass gave Marshall the chance to finish spectacularly with only centimetres to spare.
The Robins went into the break with a 16-14 lead after Harry Smith missed from the tee for a second time but faced a real test of their play-off credentials in the final 40 minutes.
To read KR reporter James O’Brien’s full report – click here.
Hull Kingston Rovers 26 (16)
Tries: Vete, Milnes, Ryan, Linnett, Litten. Goals: Crooks 3
Wigan Warriors 14 (14)
Tries: Bibby, Marshall 2. Goal: Smith