Click: Last Match - Click: Next Match
Thursday 19th November 2020 Wigan Warriors 29 Hull FC 2 DW Stadium, Wigan Betfred Super League 22 - Play Off Semi Final
Kick Off 7:45pm
- Wigan - Hull FC 6 Bevan French T 6 Jake Connor 23 Jake Bibby T 32 Ratu Naulago 1 Zak Hardaker T G4 24 Mahe Fonua 4 Oliver Gildart 4 Josh Griffin 5 Joe Burgess T 2 Bureta Fairaimo 28 Harry Smith T DG 3 Carlos Tuimavave 7 Thomas Leuluai 7
31 Jackson Hastings 14 Jordan Johnstone 38
11 Willie Isa 12 Manu Ma'u 12 Liam Farrell 23 Andre Savelio 17
Interchange: 8 Tony Clubb 9 Danny Houghton 13 Sean O'Loughlin 10 Chris Satae 14 Ben Flower 13 Ligi Sao 16 Morgan Smithies 20 Brad Fash
256 days after they last played at DW Stadium in this covid infested season, Wigan returned home for a play off semi final against Hull FC, albeit still with an absence of any attendees.
29-2 looks like this was a walk in the park victory but for the opening half hour it was keenly contested battle with Hull rattling Wigan on a few occasions and probably looking more likely to add to the 2-0 lead they got in the 13th Minute after Marc Sneyd kicked a penalty.
Indeed they had a try chalked off for interference just before a big moment came when Willie Isa knocked on in the 24th Minute but Wigan ended up getting a penalty because Josh Griffin decided to celebrate by taunting Oliver Partington with four pats of the head. Wigan, indeed Partington himself, have been guilty of that in the past and I'm all for the referees penalising it. Even though I felt those tactics that Hull were using were working slightly.
That said its a big assumption to make that Hull were going to get on top of Wigan because although they would have been value in my opinion for 6-0 or 8-0, it discounts the fact that Wigan's defence in this game was outstanding. The longer it went on the more that defence swarmed all over Hull like bees round honey. It never relented and Hull just couldn't find any rhythm.
I felt generally that Wigan had control once the interchanges came in. Wigan had mass experience of play off rugby to call upon in captain Sean O'Loughlin, Tony Clubb and Ben Flower. We may be reaching the final twinklings of all three of those players time in Wigan colours but all three know what this stage of the season is about. Flower actually left the field injured but the point still remains.
For Wigan to get going though in terms of points they had to find some real quality plays down the left. First a beautiful bat on by Oliver Gildart from Harry Smith's pass got Joe Burgess over on 27 minutes. Then Burgess kicked inside on a great passing move to enable Smith to claim the second try in the 33rd Minute. That second effort was so pinpoint in it's accuracy and it needed to be, the margins of error in the passing and the touchline were very small.
Hardaker converting both was huge for 12-2 and Wigan just needed to keep calm and see the clock to half time. Smith adding a drop goal for 13-2 right on the hooter was very mature. That said earlier in the half Smith had started nervously - kicking out on the full, conceding a cheap penalty and getting away with jumping out the defensive line I recall very early on. Forgotten things in light of a 29-2 win but had Hull found that try for 6-0 or 8-0 its a more costly story.
So 13-2 was a good half time lead but caution could be found by remembering this stage of the play offs in 2016 when Wigan's 14-0 half time lead became an 18-16 to Hull on the hour. We still won but that highlighted the importance of the first try of the second half.
Wigan getting it after just four minutes was huge. Bevan French had a quiet first half in attack but he was back on it to cause problems going right and Zak Hardaker was found with a pass on a reverse angle run that saw him clear through to the posts from 30 metres. Easy conversion for 19-2 and that, despite 36 minutes remaining, I declared on commentary should be enough.
To be fair it took 30 minutes for Wigan to finally nail the door shut and Hull never gave up in spirit but although they did get close making a break on one occasion, Sneyd was denied by a wonderful try saving tackle by French who easily made up a four stride start. Hull just didn't have any real answers to Wigan's energetic defence.
Eventually the enthusiasm was extinguished and Wigan found two late gloss tries with first Jake Bibby scoring in the right corner before French completed the victory with his 17th try of the season.
Captain Sean O'Loughlin refused to end his home career with a kick at goal but was given a guard of honour as he left the DW field for the final time. What a shame no fans could see that but he will probably be glad with that minimal attention with the bigger issue of a Grand Final to come.
12:14 Wigan 00 Hull FC 02
Penalty Goal: Marc Sneyd (1/1)
26:14 Wigan 04 Hull FC 02
Try: Joe Burgess
Wigan 06 Hull FC 02
Conversion: Zak Hardaker (1/1)
32:23 Wigan 10 Hull FC 02
Try: Harry Smith
Wigan 12 Hull FC 02
Conversion: Zak Hardaker (2/2)
40:00 Wigan 13 Hull FC 02
Drop Goal: Harry Smith
Half` Time Wigan Warriors 13 Hull FC 2 44:01 Wigan 17 Hull FC 02
Try: Zak Hardaker
Wigan 19 Hull FC 02
Conversion: Zak Hardaker (3/3)
74:01 Wigan 23 Hull FC 02
Try: Jake Bibby
Wigan 23 Hull FC 02
Missed Conv: Zak Hardaker (3/4)
78:45 Wigan 27 Hull FC 02
Try: Bevan French
Wigan 29 Hull FC 02
Conversion: Zak Hardaker (4/5)
Full Time Wigan Warriors 29 Hull FC 2 Referee:
0 (Non Fans in Attendance due to Covid-19 Regulations)
2020 Super League 25 Play Offs - Week 1
Thursday 12th November 2020
Eliminator: Warrington Wolves 14 Hull FC 27
Friday 13th November 2020
Eliminator: Catalan Dragons 26 Leeds Rhinos 14 (played at Warrington)
2020 Super League 25 Play Offs - Week 2
Thursday 19th November 2020
Semi Final: Wigan Warriors 29 Hull FC 2
Friday 20th November 2020
Semi Final: St Helens 48 Catalan Dragons 2