Make no bones at about, Wigan dodged a massive
bullet in winning this game. Hull came into the DW with tactics
which were a bit shithouse to be honest but it worked for them.
Huddersfield rattled us when they came to Wigan late last year and
Hull did the same today. They worked their socks off but in the end
those tactics backfired on them, dramatically!
The game turned completely in the 67th minute
when Joel Tomkins was sent off for an act of complete stupidity.
Seconds before his red card he'd been involved in an incident with
Kirk Yeaman, off the ball, which saw fists flying from all angles.
Amazingly referee Steve Ganson left both players
on the park, which I think surprised most fans in the stadium.
Penalty went to Wigan and what followed was sheer madness. Joel
took the ball up and ran straight at Yeaman, smashing him with his
elbow/forearm. Not even the most one eyed Wiganer could argue
against it being a red card. Shocking play for him and he had to
The problem really though should have been
avoided by Steve Ganson. Hull had targeted Joel's brother Sam all
afternoon and were penalised four or five times for some very poor
hits on him. Willie Manu in particular was guilty on a couple of
occasions. Yet neither for any of those fouls, or the fight just
before the red card, did Ganson send someone to the bin and that
for me led to an inevitable red card.
That was the kind of match Hull wanted though.
They wanted to upset Wigan and for most of the game it worked but
the red card ironically back fired on them big style. Rather than
harming Wigan, it fired up the team's aggression and the noise
level from the supporters. Those two things combined led to the
late rally that got Wigan a win that I'm not sure they deserved.
The match started well enough for Wigan with an
early try down the left for Ryan Hoffman. Bomb went up and Hoffman
outleaped ex Warrior Cameron Phelps, making his Hull debut, in the
air to touch down. Although Paul Deacon's conversion hit the post,
I quickly began to think this would turn into an easy afternoon's
work for Wigan.
I am often a bad predictor though because as
time wore on it became apparent that Wigan were just off the pace
today. All often when the rare clean breaks came, the support play
was pretty poor. Similarly the goal line defence was not up the
standards previously seem this year.
Hull got a penalty in the 8th minute which
marched them down field and quick hands towards the left enabled
Joe Westerman to crash over in the corner. We have big problems
down our right side because Stefan Marsh and Darrell Goulding are
being caught out quite a lot. Really missing Martin Gleeson in
defence out there. Tickle failed to convert off the touchline which
left the score at 4-4.
That try lifted Hull. They were working hard in
the pack despite the loss of Sam Moa in the pre match warm up. His
injury meant Ewan Dowes backed up for Hull having only played
yesterday in the Under 20s match at Orrell.
On the quarter hour Wigan lost Paul Deacon with
another nasty head injury. He suffered a bad cut in a collision
apparently and I think he went off the hospital with it. An
ambulance certainly left the stadium from the north west corner so
I'm assuming he was in it?
His absence meant Sean O'Loughlin switched to
Stand Off and before he had chance to settle Hull went over for a
second try. Again they went towards the wing of Marsh and Goulding.
Grubber from Richard Horne was touched down by Tom Briscoe with
millimetres to spare before the dead ball line. Tickle's conversion
made it 10-4 and Hull were now well up for the fight that literally
The problem for Hull though was that they needed
penalties to get close to our line. Clean breaks were at a premium
and they never looked like having the class to beat us out wide.
Wigan had numerous opportunities in the twenty
minutes up to half time, but never really looked like scoring.
Hull's defence was pretty strong. Kirk Yeaman denied Stefan Marsh
in the right corner whilst Phelps stopped Joel Tomkins from scoring
soon after. Wigan couldn't find a try so the half time score was
left at 10-4 to Hull.
Not sure what was said in the dressing room at
Half Time but it didn't really work. Our frustrations grew when Joe
Westerman slotted over a penalty goal on 45 minutes to make it
12-4. Now the way Wigan were playing today, that was looking more
than enough to win the game for Hull.
Wigan needed a big break to help them back into
the contest and it came on 55 minutes. A decent kick was looking
like it was going dead but Will Sharp inexplicably touched it out
for a drop out when he really didn't need to. Most of Wigan's play during the match had gone
towards the right wing but Kirk Yeaman and Tom Briscoe were
defending very well under high balls. After the drop out we finally went left
to test Will Sharp on that wing and he was found to be flapping. A beautiful cut out pass from Sean O'Loughlin allowed
Josh Charnley to squeeze over in the corner. With Paul Deacon off
the field, Sam Tomkins had to attempt the conversion but despite a
brave effort off the touchline, it went wide.
Typically from the restart, Wigan knocked on to
gift Hull easy territory to hit straight back. Charnley himself was
guilty. We needed a massive stand at this point because a further
try would have killed us off. A massive stand is what we got, we
survived and in truth that was Hull's last real attack of the game,
even though over twenty minutes remained.
It was still looking
like a long way back for Wigan. Hull didn't collapse after Wigan
have halved their lead. I even tweeted with 17 minutes to
go that "it'll be a miracle if Wigan win this game". Told ya, I'm a
But three minutes after that tweet came the big
punch then red card I mentioned earlier that turned the contest.
Most fans agreed it was stupid of Joel, if only because we'd just
received a massive, desperately needed, penalty to put us on Hull's
try line and his red card gave the penalty straight back to Hull.
However, our pack was now well on top. In truth
we had been starting to find holes against a tired looking Hull
defence before the red card but now they had the roar of the crowd
to inspire them.
This momentum led to the try that levelled the
scores on 71 minutes. It was a carbon copy of the previous try.
Long cut out pass by O'Loughlin allowed Charnley an overlap to
squeeze in again. Terrible from Hull really that twelve men can
create an overlap but that's exactly what happened. Will Sharp was
awful in particular. Sam couldn't convert again though but the
score was now 12-12 and I would have been more than happy with
The momentum was all Wigan and a penalty on half
way gave them a perfect opportunity to just dink over a one
pointer. They drove and drove but instead of taking the one, Hull
conceded a second penalty, just to the left of the posts, which was
perfect for even fourth choice kicker Sam Tomkins to slot over.
Massive roar as Wigan took a 14-12 lead with 4 minutes to go.
Hull caught Wigan on the hop with a short kick
off but although they won the ball they started to panic too soon
and ended up knocking on. Wigan saw out their next set and the
clock was now inside two minutes. Hull drove and drove but never
looked like making a clean break they needed. Poor play from Wigan
though gave them a penalty fourty metres out with 75 seconds
Westerman had kicked a penalty earlier but
Tickle was back on the field and it was up to him to earn his side
a point. It was a long way out but bang in front and well in range
for a first choice goal kicker. Thankfully for the Wigan fans,
Tickle sliced it left and after all that only 20 seconds remained.
That was that then, Wigan hung on and to nick the two league points
So Wigan won this one very Hull but in doing so
showed everyone why they won the league last season. This is a game
we would not have won under Brian Noble, I'm convinced of that. We
will need to show a lot of improvement going to Huddersfield on
Friday though. This performance wasn't the best and when Wigan put
in a poor show last year they always bounced back to win, and win
big. So hopefully we can do that. Should be a cracker either way.
I'm convinced Huddersfield will try to rattle us in the forwards as
well but we have got to expect that teams will raise their games
this year against us because we are the champion side. It's
learning to deal with it and Wigan should be able to learn a hell
of a lot from their exploits today.