Once mighty Wigan launched their latest attempt at reclaiming
their position of Challenge Cup kings with an efficient dismissal of Hull from
this year's competition at the JJB Stadium.
Coach Stuart Raper saw his
side shrug off an early second-half fightback from their Super League rivals and
gain revenge for the shock exit to theAirlie Birds two years ago.
took advantage of poor Hull handling to grab three tries in 13 minutes after
Terry Newton and Gary Connolly had both crossed before the break.
O'Neill, whose off-field antics have landed him in trouble more than once,
advanced 40 metres from a quickly-taken tap penalty, causing a split in the Hull
defence from which the visitors could not recover.
David Furner almost
sneaked over from O'Neill's pass, but when the second-rower was hauled down
inches short, Terry Newton scooped up from acting half-back and twisted over.
Farrell landed the conversion, then gave Hull full-back Deon Bird all
sorts of problems with a towering kick which was caught in the strong wind at
the home side's backs and fortunately for the visitors landed in an area where
Bird could knock it dead.
Both teams profited from wayward passes by the
opposition, with only a forward pass from Connolly preventing Irish winger Brian
Carney heading off downfield for a certain Wigan score.
Jason Smith was the inspiration behind the visitors' most incisive attacking
moves, but his failure to play the ball properly on the final tackle cost Gareth
Raynor a scoring chance in front of the visiting fans.
The visitors were
looking to exploit the power of centre Graham Mackay, back in the 13-man code
after a recent unsuccessful stint with the Leeds Tykes union outfit, but Wigan's
well-oiled defence moved up quickly to prevent any running opportunities.
Bird had not been enjoying the best of days but reacted quickly to palm
the ball dead as Newton attempted to reclaim his own grubber kick underneath the
Mackay ridiculously appeared to forget which game he was
playing when Carney hauled him to the floor a metre from the left touchline,
releasing the ball on impact as he might have in union, conceding a scrum for an
Richard Horne broke over halfway, then chipped Wigan's
last line of defence hoping for a clear run to the line, only for referee Stuart
Cummings to rule that his subsequent collision with Kris Radlinski had been
unintentional, much to the ire of the visiting fans.
marginally on top at that stage, but threw away all their good work in the final
minute of the half when Paul King attempted to squeeze a pass out on halfway,
but only found Farrell's grateful arms.
The Great Britain skipper
charged 20 metres, then when the Hull defence shut down the room, found Connolly
on his outside and the veteran centre raced past Bird to score.
were back in it within two minutes of the re-start, with Wigan centre Jamie
Ainscough at the centre of a remarkable chain of events which saw the visitors
The Australian looked to be heading for the Hull line when he
intercepted a wayward pass, only to loose the ball completely when he was
ankle-tapped by fellow-countryman Sean Ryan.
Hull took up possession and
Horne went close, before Smith found Mackay with a reverse pass behind his back,
giving the Scotland international just enough room to burrow his way over.
However, Ryan's handling was as poor as Ainscough's had been and the
former Cronulla Shark put Wigan on the offensive with a mistake inside his own
Lam and Terry O'Connor were both involved as the home
side switched the ball left, but it was 20-year-old substitute Stephen Wild who
juggled possession before forcing his way in for Wigan's third try.
were hit by more handling blunders and by the 50th minute were virtually out of
the contest, Newton feeding Lam after the visitors had again lost possession
close to their own line, Toa Kohe Love falling for the Papua New Guinea man's
If that wasn't enough, Lam then provided the delicate
kick onto which Radlinski sped to effectively seal the contest.
Carvell burst onto Smith's short pass with 15 minutes remaining, although Matt
Crowther's conversion still left the visitors 18 points adrift.
fittingly, the home side had the final word when Craig Smith took Mick Cassidy's
pass and strode home from 10 metres in the final minute.