Zak Hardaker’s penalty kick 14 minutes from time proved enough for Wigan Warriors to preserve their unbeaten Super League record with a 16-14 win over Hull FC.
Jackson Hastings scored a try and set one up for Liam Farrell to help Wigan into a 10-8 lead at half-time at the DW Stadium, with Adam Swift’s acrobatic effort and the kicking of Marc Sneyd keeping Hull in touching distance.
Mahe Fonua’s try six minutes after the restart put Brett Hodgson’s men ahead, with Sneyd notching a second penalty, but Jake Bibby’s sixth try of the season and then Hardaker’s goal saw last year’s League Leaders Shield winners make it five wins from five.
⏱ FULL TIME | Wigan get the win in a real battle at the DW thanks to tries from Bibby, Farrell and Hastings!#SLWIGHUL #NeverGonnaStop 🍒⚪ #WWRL pic.twitter.com/d75UxlWte9
However, the win was marred by a complaint of racist abuse made against Wigan’s Tony Clubb by Hull second row Andre Savelio in the first half – an incident which was put on report by referee James Child and will now go to a disciplinary hearing.
The incident comes ahead of a weekend when Super League, the RFL, Rugby League World Cup 2021 and the Rugby League Players’ Association are set to join a social media blackout to help combat racist abuse.
The Warriors initially went in front following an unforced error from Hull deep in their own half on 10 minutes. Fonua dropped the ball cold without a defender near him and Wigan took full advantage. Hastings benefited from some slack defending as he threw a dummy before crossing over and Hardaker converted.
Hull were handed their first real chance after Bevan French was adjudged to have dropped the ball inside his own half. The visitors only needed one chance, as Connor produced a sublime ball down the left-hand side and Swift was on hand to remarkably ground the ball in the corner. Sneyd converted to level it up.
This game was getting tasty after Hull conceded a penalty, with Hardaker and Connor trading a few verbals before referee Child sent the Hull full-back to the sin-bin for a high tackle on his opposite number.
It was 12-man Hull who went in front though. First they thwarted the Wigan attack after Hardaker opted not to go for goal with the penalty and seconds later, the hosts were penalised for a high tackle and Sneyd slotted it over for an 8-6 lead. Time was held up for a short time as Child put the alleged racist remark on report.
Wigan ensured they made that extra man count just before the hooter as they received another six, and Farrell was found on the left by Hastings with the centre evading the Hull defence to touch down. Hardaker was off target, but the home side led 10-8 at half time.
Wigan were given a massive let-off at the start of the second half as a loose ball sailed towards their line, and it looked like Josh Griffin had reacted the quickest and touched down, but video referee Ben Thaler ruled he had knocked on before the line.
It had been all Hull at the start of the second half and they went back in front when Fonua leapt the highest and picked Sneyd’s kick out of the air ahead of French to score. Sneyd could not convert but they led by two again.
Wigan were struggling to get out of their own half and they went four points behind, with Sneyd kicking another penalty after John Bateman was picked up for a late shot on Ligi Sao.
The home side refused to go away though and they levelled matters with 20 minutes remaining as Bibby showed some good footwork to step back inside and score after great work from Willie Isa.
Wigan retook the lead with 14 minutes remaining after Connor was penalised and Hardaker kicked the penalty to put them back in front. Both teams had chances to score, and desperate defending from Hull stopped Smith and Hardaker from extending Wigan’s lead, while Bateman produced a try saver to stop Chris Satae from scoring as the Warriors held on.
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