Given the gradual improvement in Hull Kingston Rovers’ performances post‑lockdown, perhaps this had been coming. No side has had a tougher resumption to Super League than them, with games against Warrington, St Helens and now Wigan. But as the weeks have progressed and the season has clicked back into life, there have been hints a win was not too far away.
That victory – their first in the league since January – finally arrived here, but it was the manner of it that was undoubtedly the story. At times here it was Hull KR, not their opponents, who looked like the Super League leaders, with a brand of rugby that would have been at home in any rugby league venue across the world.
Each of the six tries they scored were of supreme quality. You feared the worst for the Robins when Wigan took an early lead courtesy of Sam Powell, but the manner of Hull KR’s response was anything but what you would expect from a side who have been bottom of the league all season. Within minutes, a break from Jez Litten set Elliot Minchella free to level the game, and the tone was well and truly set from that moment onwards.
With relegation off the table this season, there is now a magnificent opportunity for Hull KR to offer experience to their young squad – a large number of whom have been recruited from the lower leagues – without the usual pressure that comes with being at the bottom of the table. That seems to have freed them of any restrictions, certainly judging by the effervescent way they played here.
Wingers are so often the main beneficiaries when a team play with such freedom, and Greg Minikin certainly capitalised here. He finished with a magnificent hat-trick, of which two tries came in the first half after superb build-up play including the impressive Will Dagger. They were sandwiched either side of a world‑class pass from Jordan Abdull, who sent Minchella in for his second.
There was no let-up from Hull KR after the break, either. Already leading 22-12 at that stage they kept their foot on Wigan’s throat, and within minutes of the restart another superb piece of skill from Abdull sent Dean Hadley. Abdull, undoubtedly the standout player here, was then involved in the build-up that led to Minikin’s hat-trick to make it 32-12.
Their courageous defence at the other end was just as impressive as their play with ball-in-hand. After a relentless period of pressure on the Robins’ line, it took the sin-binning of Shaun Kenny-Dowall with 10 minutes remaining for a hole to finally open up in Hull KR’s defence. By the time Jackson Hastings and Liam Farrell capitalised in the final minutes, the chance of victory had gone for Wigan, who can have no complaints about the outcome here.