In the bank holiday sun, Hull KR fans enjoyed the perfect end to a tough season creating real optimism for 2023 as the Robins welcome new boss Willie Peters. The ideal final home game for the departing stars like the impressive Albert Vete.
The result also handed St Helens the League Leaders’ Shield despite their defeat to Wakefield.
Hull KR open the scoring through sheer power
Against a young Wigan side but with a youthful side of their own, Hull KR set their stall out early using powerful runners all throughout their side to roll Wigan down field. Once there, the Robins went blind with Kane Linnett who was stopped initially by some courageous Wigan defence at first before smuggling the ball away to Will Tate to score.
Rovers style shines
Last season Hull KR were perhaps the best side to watch in the league a mantle they have somewhat passed on to their opponents this afternoon in 2022. However, it was that typical off the cuff style of the Robins which shone as they scored a second try. An offload created space for Phoenix Laulu-Togaga’e to cause havoc before he found Rown Milnes with an offload of his own. Milnes tied in a defender before finding Will Tate who handed it onto Ryan Hall who whenever he has that much space is guaranteed to score.
Sims gets a deserved try
Korbin Sims playing at second row was causing Wigan all sorts of problems and claimed a deserved try when, again on the second phase, Milnes spotted space in behind kicking ahead for Sims to chase on score on his final home appearance for the Robins.
Wigan striker back after darting run
Playing out of position in the halves, Sam Halsall showed his class when he weaved his way through a number of Hull KR tackles before offloading to Oliver Partington who scored having just returned from the sin bin.
Power was the word of the first half for Hull KR as they routinely used the strength of their players to get over the top of their young Wigan counterparts and Matty Storton did just that to score the Robins’ fourth try.
They refer to tries that follow disallowed tries for your opponents directly as 12-point tries, well Hull KR effectively scored an 18-point try today. After a lovely move from Wigan saw Junior Nsemba crash over only for the try to be disallowed, Hull KR had their chance to probe only for Abbas Miski to break away with the ball destined for the try line until the referee ruled he had knocked the ball on. After this, a lovely pass from Albert Vete sent young Zach Fishwick over for the try.
Try of the game
Most people’s view of brilliant tries is typically length of the field efforts but Hull KR scored a lovely try from within the Wigan 10. After a lovely break by Connor Barley set away by a superb Sam Wood offload, Hull KR showed slick hands and fantastic movement off the ball to suck the Warriors in before a flicked pass out the back put Ethan Ryan over.
Debut delight for Ben O’Keefe
Young Ben O’Keefe crowned his debut with a lovely try showing great pace to streak down the edge and reach over magnificently despite the attentions of two Hull KR cover defenders. It was started by a lovely cut out pass down the Warriors’ left. Impressively, O’Keefe then converted from the wing to make it two from two for him.
The tries keep coming
Despite the minor detour as O’Keefe scored, the game returned to its well trodden path shortly after with another terrific try from Hull KR. After a long ball out to Hall, he powered through three defenders before offloading to Ethan Ryan to score.
Jack Bibby enjoys debut try
Much like Matty Storton’s try in the first half, Jack Bibby crashed over for a debut try following in the footsteps of O’Keefe who again nailed the conversion.
Wigan finish with a flourish
Wigan finished with a real flourish this afternoon. After Bibby’s try Sam Halsall got a second before a lovely move down the right saw Abbas Miski set James McDonnell up for a try potentially his last in a Wigan shirt before joining Leeds next year.
The stars of the future
Today was a bank holiday Monday many of the players today will remember for the rest of their lives with many getting their first taste of Super League rugby or at least notching a rare appearance at a young age. Many of them shone in the Hull sunshine and don’t be surprised to see some of them making headlines in the future.
One of the young men to stand out was Phoenix Laulu-Togaga’e. The youngster is built for the modern game with speed and a killer step which routinely caused Wigan endless problems and allowed the Robins to create serious openings in the Wigan defence. Brilliant at fullback to start the game, he also did a terrific job as a stand in nine.
League Leaders’ Shield snubbed or short turnarounds to blame
After beating St Helens on Friday, Wigan kept St Helens waiting for the League Leaders’ Shield with the trophy still mathematically up for grabs along with the treble. With St Helens naming a young team against Wakefield which paved the way for Trinity to get a rare win away at Saints, the door was open for Wigan to create a story going into the final round of fixtures putting pressure on St Helens but they too named a young team. It would have been nice to have seen Wigan really go for this game instead of effectively surrendering the trophy to their rivals. However, the same could be said of Saints who could’ve shown the value of the shield by really going for it against Wakefield today. But with play-off rugby less than two weeks away, who can blame either side after having to play on the Monday after a brutal game on Friday. Without the short turnaround, perhaps we’d have enjoyed a much better conclusion to the race for top spot.
Hull KR’s unorthodox spine gets the job done
Hull KR’s spine consisted of a loose-forward at stand-off, a fullback at nine, a winger at fullback and at least natural halfback Rowan Milnes at scrum-half. Yet they still got the job done in what can only be a positive sign for the Robins with their philosophies shining through all afternoon despite the lack of natural ball players in their team. Offensively there is something very concrete for Willie Peters to build on when he arrives.
The perfect antidote
It’s been a tough season for Hull KR who have seen the potential of an exciting sequel to their terrific 2021 slip away. In part perhaps due to the changing of the guard with Tony Smith leaving but plenty of injuries to key players hasn’t helped either. A performance like today in the sun was the perfect antidote as Hull KR played with freedom and expressed themselves showing great athleticism throughout the game. 2023 could be a big year for the Robins.
Despite the fact Hull KR have nothing left to play for in 2022 except pride, the fact they’re missing plenty of players still and the fact the high flying Wigan weren’t bringing their strongest side, the Hull KR fans still turned up in their droves on a lovely bank holiday Monday. It’s been the success story of their season in truth and created a terrific atmosphere today. The introduction of Craven Street has been a huge success too. Credit Wigan fans too who were also here in numbers despite the circumstances and cheered on their young side on a tough afternoon.
29 Phoenix Laulu-Togaga’e – 9
23 Ethan Ryan – 9
24 Sam Wood – 8
28 Will Tate – 7
5 Ryan Hall – 8
21 Rowan Milnes – 8
17 Elliot Minchella – 8
22 Will Maher – 7
9 Matt Parcell – N/A
10 George King – 7
12 Kane Linnett – 8
16 Korbin Sims – 8
13 Matty Storton – 8
8 Albert Vete – 8
31 Connor Moore – 7
34 Zach Fishwick – 8
38 Connor Barley – 7
27 Umyla Hanley – 7
24 Abbas Miski – 6
2 Jake Bibby – 6
29 Alex Sutton – 6
38 Ben O’Keefe – 8
34 Logan Astley – 7
25 Sam Halsall – 8
19 Ethan Havard – 6
22 Joe Shorrocks – 6
10 Patrick Mago – 7
32 Junior Nsemba – 7
26 James McDonnell – 6
17 Oliver Partington – 6
33 Zach Eckersley – 6
35 Jack Bibby – 6
37 Harvie Hill – 6
39 Tom Forber – 7