The tie of the round saw two sides with terrific Challenge Cup wins last weekend opened round thirteen of Super League with a Thursday evening clash as third placed Hull Kingston Rovers welcomed second place Wigan Warriors to Craven Park for a top of the table clash with second place up for grabs for the winners.
All that separated the two sides is a difference of eight points in the points difference column with KR having scored three points more than Wigan while they had conceded eleven more. It was almost impossible to make a call between the two sides and the bookies had made KR slight favourites with their home advantage.
The two sides met om the opening weekend of the season when KR set out their stall for the season with a 27-18 win.
Mikey Lewis putting the kick-off out om the full wasn´t the best omen for the Robins, Wigan with the early pressure but when Bevan French knocked on it handed the ball back to the home side. There was some panic football from both sides in the opening exchanges.
Wigan drew first blood on eleven minutes, Liam Farrell on hand to take the pass after a great break from Liam Marshall off a French pass on the halfway line. They had turned defence into attack, but Harry Smith failed to add the goal.
On twenty-two some great strength from Ryan Hall saw the veteran winger score one handed in the left corner as the Wigan defence tried to push him into touch. The conversion attempt went wide from the touchline, the sides all square.
It was a walk-in try for Farrell, again thanks to his teammate Marshall, as the second rower took a looping inside pass to score in an acre of space. Smith was this time able to hit the target for a six-point lead.
Two minutes before the break Ryan Hall went close to getting his second but repeated video replays showed that he lost the ball in the act of scoring, the video referee agreeing with the on field official, KR went into the break trailing by six points in a tense and evenly matched game.
Back-to-back repeat sets for Wigan at the start of the second half allowed Marshall to get on the scoresheet, taking a French pass in space down the left win, after assisting with the first two. After a brief halt for a low flying drone, Smith was unable to add the conversion.
On forty-seven Matt Parcell pushed himself backwards over the line and despite the attentions of Smithies he managed to wriggle and hand free and slam the ball into the ground. Lewis added the conversion for 10-14.
Ryan Hall was sin-binned for a professional foul after obstructing French as he chased his own kick, the Robins down to twelve men on fifty-five.
The twelve men went in on fifty-nine to level the scores, James Batchelor crashing over the line and scoring under the sticks off a short pass from Parcell. Lewis added the goal for a 16-14 lead, the Warriors again struggling against a side with a man down.
With twelve minutes remaining, Luis Johnson collected a Jez Litten cross field kick when it looked certain that Wigan would push the ball dead in goal. KR were blitzing the Warriors in a second half which they were now controlling. Lewis was on target again, KR now eight points clear with ten minutes remaining.
Liam Marshall grabbed Wigan a lifeline as he leapt to take a Smith kick to the corner and ground as he dropped to the ground. Smith was wide with his conversion attempt, Smith having another poor night with the conversions.
A frantic closing few minutes saw Wigan snatch back the initiative when Abbas Miski dove for the corner on the hooter to again level the scores. Smith was again wide with the conversion and the game entered sudden death golden point.
On the last tackle of the first set Harry Smith put his kick out on the full and handed over possession on the Wigan forty. On the third tackle Mikey Lewis took the shot and the ball bounced back off the post into the hands of Matt Parcell who was judged to be offside.
On Wigan´s set Smithies spilled the ball before they could take a shot at goal but with less than ten seconds of the first period left Wigan broke downfield with French splitting the KR defence before finding Farrell to cross for his hat-trick to take the win when the Warriors were down and out with ten minutes remaining.
Wigan snatched a golden point win from the jaws of defeat to break the hearts of the Robins players and fans and edge themselves two points clear of tonight’s opponents in second place in the table. All credit to Hull KR who came back from a ten-point deficit to seemingly win the game, but they were unable to stop the Wigan steamroller in the dying seconds as Bevan French turned on the style. Wigan do though appear to have two Achilles heels for which coach Peet will be searching for the cure, playing with an extra man, and the wayward conversion kicking of Harry Smith.
Hull KR: Ryan, Hall C, Opacic, Kenny-Dowall, Hall R (T, SB on 55), Lewis (3G), Litten, Sue, Parcell (T), Hadley, Batchelor (T), Linnett, Minchella. Subs: Storton, Wood, Johnson (T), Luckley. 18th Man: Aydin.
Wigan Warriors: French, Miski (T), King, Wardle, Marshall (2T), Hampshire, Smith (G), Ellis, Powell, Byrne, Smithies, Farrell (3T), Shorrocks. Subs: Mago, O´Neill, Hill, Nsemba. 18th Man: Thornley.
Full-Time: 22-22. Golden Point: 22-26.
Score Progression: 0-4, 4-4, 4-8, 4-10, 4-14: HT: 8-14, 10-14, (SB), 14-14, 16-14, 20-14, 22-14, 22-18, 22-22 : FT: 22-26 : Golden Point.
Lead Exchanges: Wigan – Square – Wigan – Square – Hull KR – Square - Wigan.
Referee: Jack Smith.