Wigan returned to the top of Super League and underlined their early-season position as the team to beat, although they were given a stern test by an injury-hit, resilient Hull KR side. Two tries for the Man of Steel, Jackson Hastings, were among the five Wigan scored to see off the Robins but this was far from a straightforward afternoon’s work for the Warriors.
Hull KR were without eight first-team regulars and several other key players were injured as the afternoon went on.
It was much to the visitors’ credit that the Super League leaders never really looked comfortable until well into the final quarter.
“These are the important games to win over the course of a season,” said the Wigan coach, Adrian Lam, after watching his side register their fifth win of the season.
It took them until May in his first season in charge last year to reach that mark, underlining the transformation in fortunesunder his tenure.
This victory swung on a number of pivotal moments. With the game finely poised at 12-12 in the minutes before half-time, a superb break from Bevan French led to a magnificent try finished by Hastings. From there Wigan led for the remainder of the game, despite stubborn resistance from their opponents.
The quality from the likes of Hastings and French at crucial junctures was decisive. Earlier tries from Hastings and Liam Farrell had levelled the game after Ethan Ryan and Greg Minikin claimed deserved scores for the visitors. Injuries, however, contributed to Hull KR’s second-half downfall.
“We had one fit player left on the bench for the final 30 minutes,” said Tony Smith, whose side remain in the early-season battle at the bottom. “I can’t question my players’ effort though; we bent our backs and held our own against a very good team for large periods.”
Lam rightly pointed out that this was a game Wigan may have lost last year, and when Ryan Brierley reduced their lead to just two an upset seemed plausible.
However, with Will Maher and Joe Keyes leaving the field due to injuries, the Robins’ gameplan, and their resistance, unravelled.
Tries from Sam Powell and Liam Marshall either side of the hour mark – both converted by Zak Hardaker – opened up a three-score lead and, in the end, this was always going to be enough to see off the Robins’ spirited threat.