Injury ravaged Hull FC frightened the living daylights out of Grand Final contenders Wigan Warriors in a classic Super 8s match at the DW Stadium.
Hull coach Lee Radford trusted youth due to their unprecedented injury crisis with no fewer than six academy players as Zimbabwean born prop Masimbaashe Matongo made his debut from the bench and Jansin Turgut made his second appearance alongside Brad Fash, Jordan Abdull, Jack Logan and Jack Downs.
The game started with a very flat atmosphere as both sides started cautiously and defences were undoubtedly on top in the first few minutes.
Just as Wigan appeared to create their first opportunity with a fast move from right to left winger Joe Burgess put the ball down with open ground in front of him.
From the resulting scrum Hull then moved the ball to their left and Curtis Naughton made a dash only to be brought down into touch by a tackle that looked a touch high by Warriors full-back Ryan Hampshire.
The Warriors then went straight back to their left side with George Williams making a dart down the wing before handing inside for 19 year old centre Oliver Gildart to race in after 10 minutes, the conversion by Hampshire gave the home side a six point advantage.
Hull youngster Jack Logan then made a dangerous break from inside his own half and had the Warriors defence on the run until he tried a pass which was taken somewhat fortuitously by Burgess despite him seemingly knocking the ball on.
Wigan then forced a last tackle play with several passes but the covering Airlie Birds defence got back in numbers to halt the danger 10 meters from their own line as they refused to just lie down.
Wigan soon extended their advantaged as a fast move to the right side saw Anthony Gelling draw winger Naughton in before putting Josh Charnley over in the corner in the 22nd minute, the touchline conversion by Hampshire gave them a 12 point lead.
Unfortunately for the badly under strength black and whites the Warriors were finding yards rather easy to come by but Hull did keep making clean breaks which would have upset Warriors boss Shaun Wane.
Another break by Jordan Rankin after Matty Smith knocked on near the Hull line saw the Airlie Birds again press the Warriors defence until an unfortunate pass hit Rankin and ballooned over Tom Lineham into touch.
Wigan were then given a fortuitous scrum when a short kick was unluckily fumbled by Logan giving them a scrum 20 meters from the Hull line but a move to the right was snuffed out after a forward pass from Gelling to Charnley was pulled up by referee James Child.
Warriors forward Sam Powell was then very lucky to face no further action after clearly gouging Lineham’s eye which saw the winger taken off for further treatment.
Mark Minichiello was then harshly penalised for a ball steal in a 1-on-1 tackle giving the Warriors another penalty and eventually John Bateman crossed under the posts, the conversion from Hampshire made it 18-0 after 32 minutes.
Another Wigan attack threatened another try but then a dropped ball presented full-back Jamie Shaul with a chance to run and the Hull man raced 95 meters for his 8th try of the season, the touchline conversion from Marc Sneyd brought the black and white’s back into the game with four minutes to go to the break.
Two minutes later the Airlie Birds were in again as a fast move to the left side saw Logan dispense with one tackle from England scrum half Matty Smith and then rounded two more defenders all too easily to score, the conversion from Sneyd reduced the deficit to six points with less than a minute to half time.
Hull started the second half in good mood and after their first set in the half Sneyd came within a whisker of a 40/20 but the ball just went into touch short of the 20 meter line much to the home sides relief.
The Warriors were afforded the first chance of the half as Minichiello made an uncharacteristic error as he dropped a pass inside his own 20 meter area but a well organised defence from Hull kept them at bay forcing Smith into a kick which was fielded by Naughton to force a goal line drop out.
A harsh penalty for interference against Matongo then gave the Warriors more possession and territory but a nothing attack was easily repelled by a vice-like Hull defnce as a Warriors player was forced into touch under a pack of defenders.
Another Warriors attack then saw another kick to the Hull left and this time Naughton managed to tap the ball back for Sneyd to take the ball and bring it away from the line again.
Another comical attack from the Warriors then saw a rare mistake from Shaul as he failed to take a grubber kick in, the loose ball was thrown inside to Powell but as he slid over the line he was foiled by Danny Houghton’s hand forcing the ball clear resulting in a 20 meter restart for Hull.
Hull then attacked again as they sensed another chance but Naughton was stopped less than 10 meters short and then a wide kick by Sneyd was knocked on.
Wigan then thought they had another try after Abdull spilled a kick and Bateman grabbed the loose ball to touchdown but the video referee disallowed the try after Flower was adjudged to have tackled the young stand-off without the ball.
Another Wigan attack then saw Josh Charnley held up over the line but then on the next play Flower forced his way over the whitewash, the conversion from Hampshire stretched the Warriors lead to an undeserved 12 points with 18 minutes left to play.
Hull then came again as Fash made a dash in broken play but was then penalised for pushing Hampshire off him trying to get a quick play the ball.
Wigan then attacked again and another kick was floated out to Charnley’s wing but again Naughton was equal to it to push the ball out to touch in goal.
Wigan were then awarded a penalty in front of the posts and, uncharacteristically they opted to take the two points and Hampshire duly obliged to make it 26-12 with 13 minutes left.
Hull then made a great break through Steve Prescott Man of Steel contender Liam Watts and with the Warriors defence at sixes and sevens a kick right by Sneyd was taken in by Rankin and the departing Australian dotted the ball down to score, the conversion by Sneyd brought them back within eight points.
Hull then cut the Wigan defence apart embarrassingly easily again and a deft kick by Houghton saw Logan race up outside Charnley, scoop the ball in, and leave the England winger floundering in his wake to race in unopposed, the conversion by Sneyd made it a two point ball game with eight minutes remaining.
Taulima Tautai was then sin-binned for a dangerous tackle on Mickey Paea with less than seven minutes left to play.
Wigan then grabbed a totally undeserved win as Super League’s leading try-scorer Burgess rounded off a move down the left hand side with a palpable sense of relief to leave a final score of 30-24.
Penalties Wigan 5 Hull FC 3
Goal Line Drop Outs Wigan 0 Hull FC 2
Man of the Match (Shared) Curtis Naughton and Jack Logan
- Airlie Birds
- Anthony Gelling
- Brad Fash
- Curtis Naughton
- George Williams
- Grand Final
- Hull FC
- Jack Downs
- Jack Logan
- James Child
- Jamie Shaul
- Jansin Turgut
- Joe Burgess
- John Bateman
- Jordan Abdull
- Jordan Rankin
- Josh Charnley
- Lee Radford
- Liam Watts
- Marc Sneyd
- Mark Minichiello
- Masimbaashe Matongo
- Matty Smith
- Mickey Paea
- Oliver Gildart
- Ryan Hampshire
- Sam Powell
- Shaun Wane
- Steve Prescott Man of Steel
- Super League
- Taulima Tautai
- Tom Lineham
- Wigan Warriors