I think the Times Journalist Chris Irvine summed this game up best
when he suggested on his twitter that Wigan and Hull were "a week too late
with their 1985 repeat". This was a fantastic game of Rugby
Wigan chose to rest the majority of the cup final winning side
with only Iain Thornley, Ben Flower, Chris Tuson, Gil Dudson, Scott
Taylor and Logan Tomkins remaining in the seventeen.
Only four from the Wembley team started for Wigan whilst Hull
started with eleven of their Wembley seventeen. It left Wigan win
a young back line that had an average age of just 19.5, including
debutant Dom Manfredi on the right wing.
The early signs were ominous for Wigan. Hull made a couple of
big breaks and you feared a shallacking was on the cards when Jason
Crookes gave Hull the lead in the 7th minute after he beat Joe
Burgess for power. Danny Tickle converted for 6-0.
But Wigan grew
into the match, helped by a massive impact from an experienced
bench that included Ben Flower, Scott Taylor and ex Welsh Rugby
Union International Andy Powell.
Big Powell had been on barely two minutes when he levelled the
scores. Danny Houghton and Liam Watts were both slack in defence
but it was Joe Westerman who Powell aimed at and his tackle attempt
was woeful. He got bumped off and Powell raced to the left of the
posts for the score. Ryan Hampshire converted for 6-6.
soon back in the lead when Tom Briscoe scored a soft try down the
left with Tickle converting off the touchline for 12-6.
though finished the half strongly. A good kicking game between
Hampshire and Sam Powell was pinning them back and I think they at
least deserved the try claimed to level the scores before half
Short pass from Logan Tomkins sent Ben Flower crashing over
from two metres out and a Hampshire conversion made it 12 all with
a minute to go.
Wigan fans were delighted with that score for
half time but their was still seconds remaining for us to take the
lead with a brilliant try. Anthony Gelling found the break down the
right wing and had support from "Rocky" Hampshire to finish a 70
metre move. Sadly he couldn't convert but the home fans were in
raptures with a 16-12 half time lead.
Into the second half and
Wigan had a dominating spell of possession that saw them extend
that lead to 26-12.
First an offload from Iain Thornley sent Joe
"Budgie" Burgess in the left corner for his first Wigan try.
Hampshire converted for 22-12. Then, after Powell had kicked a
40/20, a bomb towards the left wing
saw "the fifth Burgess brother" leap, which pressured Crookes into
making an error, and Thornley pounced on the loose ball to score.
Hampshire's missed the extras this time for a 26-12 score.
were all over Hull at this point and had a try disallowed trying to
extend that lead further soon after but with 25 minutes still the
go the match was far from over.
A break from Jamie Shaul got Hull
well down field, but he played the ball to no one and Wigan had
pounced on the loose ball to win back possession. However referee
Child deemed not square at the play the ball and Hull converted
that territory into a second try of the game for Crookes. Looked a
tough call that one but that, and the disallowed try, swung the
momentum completely back into Hull's favour.
Although Tickle had
missed the extras, the visitors backed the try up with another try
three minutes later. An error from Tierney created the territory
and Crookes went in for his hat-trick. Tickle converted this time
and the pressure was heaped on Wigan at 26-22.
It was Wigan now
who couldn't get the ball and it was no surprise when on 65 minutes
Westerman scored to level the game up. Tickle however missed a
conversion so the score was tied up at 26-26.
Their now only looked to be one winner but Wigan managed to
re-take the lead on 69 minutes. Kicks had caused problems for Hull
previously and another massive bomb from Sam Powell was totally
flapped by Shaul and Gelling, racing to put him under pressure won
the race to catch the bouncing ball and score near the posts.
Hampshire's conversion made it 32-26.
Then on 74 minutes, Sam
Powell added a drop goal for 33-26 and that really should of been
the game won. Sadly though Wigan fell over their own inexperience
in the latter stages and kind of loss the game themselves.
crucial moment came completing the set following that try. Sam
Powell kicked out on the full, giving Hull a scrum near half way.
That scrum was converted into a try for Hull with Briscoe scoring a
second and Tickle's conversion making it 33-32. Daniel Holdsworth
had calm composure soon after to kick a drop goal for 33-33.
The game looked to be heading towards a draw but with less than
90 seconds to go, Hull knocked on 15 metres from their own line,
gifting Wigan perfect territory to win the game for a second time.
Scrum was formed and we all was expecting a full set of pressure.
Their was no chance of losing we all thought. They'd either score
or run enough time off the clock to take a point for the draw.
But instead we got a moment of madness. Straight from the scrum,
Sam Powell attempted a drop goal which went well wide. So rushed it
was untrue. Gasps of "what the f*ck" all round. (By the way,
despite Wigan's protest the ball was played it, replays show quite
clear that it wasn't.)
That left Hull with a minute to go up the
other end and get their own drop goal to win, which they did with
Holdsworth calmly slotting over a second one pointer. No time for
Wigan to respond, they had cruelly lost 34-33.
That was only half
the story though. At the point when Powell had kicked out on the
full (when Wigan held a 33-26 lead) the official game clock, that
is displayed in the West Stand for all to see, was stopped, as is
standard when a team rushes to form a scrum. 5.03 remained on it.
But that clock was not restarted after the ball went back in play.
It remained stopped on 5.03 whilst Hull went on the attack. I can't
recall now how many tackles went by, but they went 50-60 metres
down field with no time being run off. It only restarted when Hull
had scored the try for 33-32.
Now I'm not blaming Hull here
because in the end they played to the clock perfectly during the
final moments of the game, but it did look like a time keeping
error had been made and I think its sad that it cost the young lads
at least a point. Hull scored a try, a conversion and two drop
goals in that last five minutes and if the game clock was halted
for 30-45 seconds then those seconds were clearly massive. Only
about 10 seconds remained when Hull kicked the winning drop goal.
I also think it goes a long way to explaining the rushed drop
goal. The fact coach Shaun Wane said "our clock was two minutes
over at the end of the game" perhaps contributed to confusion on
the field and was a factor contributing to the madness of that drop
goal attempt by Wigan.
Again it isn't Hull's fault, I just think its a shame if a time
keeping error has cost Wigan at least a point, because those lads
certainly didn't deserve to lose after being ahead or level with
Hull on the scoreboard for all but the last ten seconds of the
final 42 minutes.
You get lessons though in sport and the kick out on the full was
probably the ultimate deciding factor. Powell had put in some
superb kicks all game but that one error came back to bite him
massively. A harsh lesson for a youngster who was superb