Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Robins Comeback Stuns Warriors

After a last-gasp defeat to Brisbane in the World Club Series, Wigan returned to Super League duties with the long journey up to East Yorkshire to face Hull Kingston Rovers on Sunday afternoon, The two side had contrasting starts to the season with Wigan unbeaten and Hull KR without a win in the first two rounds.

Wigan included Lee Mossop for the first time since his return from NRL side Parramatta Eels with former Warriors centre Darrell Goulding and Wigan loanee Greg Burke lining up for the Robins who looked to break their duck in Super League XX.

The early exchanges from both sides saw a lack of competed sets with the best chance to score coming for Wigan as a clever kick collected by Josh Charnley saw him tackled close to the tryline before the Robins went on to force a goal-line dropout. Tempers seemed to flare between the sides with a few scuffles taking place but with no serious outcome. Wigan went close again with Tony Clubb tackled just inches from claiming the first score of the afternoon.

The Robins went close to opening the scoring themselves with two close range drives before a last tackle grubber kick from Darrell Goulding bounced wildly as Joe Burgess looked to shield the ball out which allowed Ken Sio to touch down for a try, Josh Mantellato converted and the hosts led 6-0.

Wigan responded with a try from their next set after the Robins had lost the ball with a fine run from John Bateman followed by a penalty gave the Warriors good field position, George Williams and Joel Tomkins combined to put Joe Burgess in for a try in the corner but a tough angle meant Matty Smith failed to convert at 6-4.

After failing to draw level, Wigan soon took the lead with a quick move from a penalty which saw Michael McIlorum pick out Lee Mossop who crossed for an historic try by becoming only the second Warrior after Dennis Betts to score on debut in two different spells. Matty Smith converted to put the Warriors ahead 10-6.

However, Wigan extended their lead from the restart as a nice passing move resulted in a penalty which they utilised well to send Josh Charnley in for a try in the corner but a tough angle and strong winds meant Matty Smith was unable to convert as Wigan led 14-6 into the interval.

The Warriors made a perfect start to the second half with a great move from the kick-off which saw Joe Burgess dash down the wing before offloading to the supporting George Williams who raced through the Robins defence to touch down with ease under the posts. Matty Smith converted and Wigan led 20-6 with 42 minutes on the clock.

Hull KR had to be wary of the Warriors attack given the 84-6 humiliation of just two years ago and they battled back with clever move across the field which saw Ken Sio cross for his second try of the afternoon but a failure to convert from Josh Mantellato left them at 20-10.

A superb 60 metre break from the Robins saw them denied a try by a blistering chase back from the Wigan defensive pair of Williams and Hampshire but their heroics were soon in vain as Mitch Allgood crossed for a try from close range which Josh Mantellato converted with ease for 20-16.

Wigan were guilty of letting a lead slip in their previous away trip to Widnes and the trend continued as Hull KR drew level with a controversial 'quick play the ball' which saw Kieran Dixon cross for a try before Josh Mantellato converted to put the Robins in front at 22-20.

Last year's meeting saw Wigan comeback to draw in the final seconds and with just six minutes remaining a repeat would be needed to retain their unbeaten record but the best chance saw Anthony Gelling run down the middle before knocking on in the final seconds signalling a first win of the campaign for the Robins.