A Zak Hardaker drop goal gave Wigan a 15-14 victory over Hull FC at the KCOM Stadium. The win sees them close the gap up to Hull in third to just two points. Here’s everything that happened.
A high-intensity match occurred on Friday evening as both sides felt that they needed the victory more. Hull wanted to make up for last weekend’s Challenge Cup semi-final defeat against Warrington and Wigan want that elusive third spot in Super League. Both sides looked up for this match with tempers flaring and both defences standing strong for the most part.
The game started off steady, with both teams getting a feel for the match. Two Marc Sneyd penalty goals gave Hull a 4-0 lead after 14 minutes.
Wigan then went on the ascendancy and were the first over the tryline. Tommy Leuluai kicked over to the right of the pitch for Liam Marshall to leap up and touch down. Bureta Faraimo was then deemed to have tackled him in the air and an 8-point try was awarded. The penalty was certainly talked about on social media and in the Sky Sports commentary box so a clarification may be needed on that rule.
Another penalty from Zak Hardaker on the half-hour mark gave the Warriors a 10-4 lead.
Sneyd added another penalty on the stroke of half time after he was knocked over by Willie Isa following a kick-through. This caused a bit of a fracas before Sneyd took the penalty to make it 10-6 to Wigan at half-time. The verbals continued into the tunnel with many players getting involved. You felt that something was brewing during the first half so it wasn’t surprising that it escalated.
Despite Wigan’s slim lead, the stats were pretty even stevens, with 50% possession for either side. Both sides had a few handling errors as they were both looking to score on every attack.
An interesting second half followed. Marshall got his second of the evening, following a Jordan Lane error. Once again, Faraimo came out of his line too quickly, leaving Sneyd to cover Marshall going over in the corner to make it 14-6 to Wigan, with Hardaker missing the conversion.
Hull then found an extra burst in attack. Ratu Naulago raced down the right touchline before veteran Tony Clubb came racing across to make a superb tackle on the winger. Hull were awarded the scrum but failed to do so before the shot clock ran out and Wigan were awarded the penalty.
Shortly after, the Warriors had a try disallowed by the video ref after a Liam Byrne double movement.
Hull were next to score through an almost-identical score to last weekend. Danny Houghton took the ball at dummy half just before the tryline and passed inside for Scott Taylor to go over next to the sticks. With the Sneyd conversion, this made a 12-14 scoreline in Wigan’s favour.
Sneyd added another penalty with 10 minutes to go before Hardaker grabbed a drop goal with five minutes left to give Wigan a 15-14 victory.
Both sides gave everything they had as you could tell by the end of the match with several players looking exhausted and on their haunches. It was a low scoring affair, with a really high intensity throughout. They could meet again in the play-offs so with the two games this season between them decided by a drop goal, a third is a real possibility.
O’Loughlin loss is huge
The skipper went off during the first half with a suspected torn pectoral muscle. He hadn’t played until June before returning last night. Although his age is now a limiting factor, he still adds much needed experience and leadership to the Warriors side both on and off the pitch. Could this potentially have been his last ever game?
Hull in the halves
The roles of Sneyd, Albert Kelly and Jake Connor is still yet to be defined but for the second week in a row, coach Lee Radford has started with Sneyd and Kelly, with Connor coming off the bench. This currently just isn’t working, with all three not having the best time of late.
Wigan youngsters shine
The Wigan academy is back in full swing, with many products of the system shining in the Warriors side. Oliver Partington, Morgan Smithies and Liam Byrne all put in big shifts last night so with some aging players in the Wigan ranks, the future still looks bright for the squad.
Hull FC 14
Goals: Sneyd 5
Drop Goals: n/a
Tries: Marshall 2
Goals: Hardaker 3
Drop Goals: Hardaker
Hull FC: Shaul, Naulago, Tuimavave, Griffin, Faraimo, Kelly, Sneyd, Taylor, Houghton, Green, Lane, Minichiello, Westerman.
Interchanges: Connor, Matongo, Fash, Ellis.
Wigan: Hardaker, Marshall, Sarginson, Gildart, Burgess, Williams, Leuluai, Navarrete, Powell, Partington, Isa, Farrell, Smithies.
Interchanges: Clubb, O’Loughlin, Byrne, Sammut.