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Wigan Warriors 16 Hull FC 30, Impressive Airlie Birds ruin Tomkins homecoming

Hull FC made sure it was business as usual with a 9th win in 10 in all competitions with a comfortable win at the DW Stadium on Friday night.

With the return of Sam Tomkins to the cherry and whites side, following his ill-fated spell in the NRL with New Zealand Warriors, dominating the build-up to this match the current form of the black and whites, and their England hopeful full-back Jamie Shaul seemed almost incidental, until the time it really mattered.

Former Wigan prop forward Scott Taylor also had an agenda all of his own, the big forward left the Warriors in acrimonious circumstances before arriving back home in Hull, via a season at Salford Red Devils, and has been in career-best form since joining his boyhood team.

Coach Lee Radford brought Sika Manu back into his 17 after allowing the back-row forward to captain Tonga in the pacific test against Samoa last week, however he lost Curtis Naughton to injury, the former Sydney Roosters player was replaced on the wing by Australian Stevie Michaels.

Shaun Wane brought Tomkins in on the bench and switched John Bateman from the pack to replace late withdrawal Anthony Gelling at centre and brought Joel Tomkins back into the starting 13.

Hull were presented with the first opportunity after Willie Isa gave away a soft penalty to invite the black and whites into their half and Marc Sneyd embarrassed the home defence bypassing two defenders far too easily to stretch out and grab the first try in the third minute, his conversion made it a six point lead for the visitors.

Two minutes later skipper Gareth Ellis made a dash down the middle through more suspect defending but his pass to Mark Minichiello failed to find its target with the line beckoning.

Wigan were given their first chance following a penalty for interference just after that but eventually a short grubber kick by George Williams was easily gobbled up by Leon Pryce in front of the Hull try line.

A high tackle on Taylor then presented Hull with another penalty giving them possession and territory again and the black and whites profited again with a beautiful move to the right with offloads by Pryce and Danny Washbrook putting Michaels over in the corner in the 10th minute, Sneyd was just off target with the conversion.

Taylor was the next try-scorer after Dan Sarginson gave a terrible pass, Oliver Gildart scooped it back inside but Mahe Fonua was first to react to the loose ball, the big outside back flicked a pass to the prop who went 40 meters without a finger laid on him, Sneyd made it 0-16 with the boot after 14 minutes.

Sneyd then took the invite of an easy two points from a penalty in front of the posts to stretch it to an 18 point lead in the 24th minute.

Wigan were looking rattled and disorganised until a penalty gave them more territory and possession which saw captain Sean O’Loughlin crack the stubborn defence and get Gildart over in the corner in the 26th minute to get them on the scoreboard, Matty Smith was off-target with the conversion attempt.

A scrum with head and feed 20 meters from the Hull line gave them another opportunity after a knock-on by Michaels but superb defence from the visitors wouldn’t give way and Ryan Sutton eventually tried to crash over but lost the ball in front of the line.

The Warriors were being given a taste of their own medicine with some fearsome hits from a very big, physical Hull side which they were combating like-for-like, leading referee Ben Thaler to punctuate the action with his whistle regularly as the game moved at breakneck speed.

Tomkins made his return after 35 minutes to visibly lift the Warriors fans in the hope that he could get them back into a match that was fast looking beyond them due to the tenacious defending, organised attacking and the physical bullying by the visitors.

Wigan had one last frantic attack as the hooter sounded but it came to nothing as Michaels brought Gildart to ground to send Hull into the break with a thoroughly deserved 14 point lead.

Fonua made a mistake early in the second half as he fumbled a high kick behind his line which led to a goal line drop out but O’Louglin wasted the opportunity with a knock-on giving Hull possession and chance to clear their lines.

Hull got their first real chance of the second half after Isa was pulled up for a ball-steal in the tackle on Jordan Thompson but eventually Williams was able to grab a short kick just ahead of Jamie Shaul.

The Warriors then went to the other end with a break down their left by Gildart until Pryce tackled him and tried to drag him into the touch causing the young centre to dump the ball inside which was then gobbled up by a swift moving defence.

Wigan appeared to be taking control of proceedings and another penalty presented the cherry and whites with a chance and Bateman crossed for a try beside the posts after 53 minutes to establish that there were still two teams in this game, Smith made it 10-18 with the conversion.

Tomkins then raised the roof as he was awarded a try by video referee Rob Hicks after 58 minutes, the touchline conversion from Smith brought the Warriors, who were very much in the ascendancy, back within two points after being in a seemingly hopeless position.

With their half-backs Williams and Smith controlling things in the middle the Warriors were starting to boss Hull around in their usual way, however their opposite numbers Pryce and Sneyd were also still threatening and not letting them have it all their own way.

Hull were regularly being turned around by Smith’s kicking game and it was going to take something very special for the Airlie Birds to get control back, it duly arrived after 65 minutes as Liam Watts produced a sublime offload to Shaul who raced 70 meters, bamboozled Tomkins with a delicious step, and then held off Josh Charnley to grab an outstanding try, Sneyd’s touchline conversion gave Hull a two-score lead.

Suddenly Hull were back on the front foot and a destructive break by Minichiello set-up the position for Lee Radford’s side which allowed Pryce to produce a peach of a pass for Fetuli Talanoa to dive in spectacularly at the corner in the 69th minute, Sneyd was just off the mark with his touchline conversion attempt.

Another silly penalty given away by O’Loughlin presented Sneyd with another guaranteed two points from in front of the posts, he inevitably obliged with eight minutes left to play to take Hull three scores clear.

The black and whites then held Wigan at arms length for the remaining time to secure the two league points in very efficient fashion with the only incident of note being a disallowed try by Chris Green, denied by the video referee for offside.

Penalties: Wigan 6 Hull 8

Goal Line Drop Outs: Wigan 0 Hull 1

Attendance: 15,083

Man of the Match: Liam Watts

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