Hull Kingston Rovers continued their excellent form in 2021 on Friday night with a superb victory away to Wigan Warriors at the DW Stadium - despite missing key players Korbin Sims and Man of Steel candidate Jordan Abdull.
A low scoring first half
Despite many Rovers fans fearing the worst with two big names missing, the Robins went into half time ahead. Brad Takairangi sent
Ben Crooks in for the only try of the half, which was converted to make it 0-6.
Rovers also had to do it the hard way, with George King sin binned on the half hour mark. Three consecutive penalties were given away and referee Robert Hicks gave the Warriors the advantage which they couldn’t capitalise on.
The Robins defence, however, held firm as the hooter sounded.
Mikey Lewis crucial to Rovers’ win in the second half
It was returning the Mikey Lewis who created the second try for the away side. A superb kick across field saw Ryan Hall gather under pressure and touch down, with the score now 0-12 in Rovers’ favour.
Lewis had been on loan at York City Knights in the Championship, but Head Coach Tony Smith will be impressed by the youngsters’ performance against a top Super League club in the Warriors.
Oliver Gildart put the Warriors back within touching distance with a brace, but it was all about Lewis yet again for the winning moment. His grubber kick was gathered by Adam Quinlan to make the the points went back to East Hull with only six minutes left on the clock.
After being tipped as perennial strugglers at the start of the campaign, Rugby League fans are now realising that Tony Smith is building something special at Hull KR and their defence - usually their Achilles heel in seasons gone by - is now much tougher, with entertaining rugby going forward.
What the coaches said
Wigan’s Adrian Lam
"It was frustrating,” he told BBC Radio Manchester. “We weren't connected as a team from the start and we made too many mistakes.”
"I have to give credit to Hull's defence obviously, but we were poor at that tonight and I'm really disappointed."
"I thought there was effort there, there was no doubt about that, but when we had so many sets inside the 20-metre line, the Wigan team that we are would have posted points.”
Hull KR’s Tony Smith
"It was a good effort,” the Rovers coach told BBC Radio Humberside. “It's been backs-to-the-wall on and off the field. It's been a tough week in terms of preparation but there was real character shown.
"I'm not sure how many teams come here and keep Wigan to nil at half-time. They had about 38 tackles in our quarter but we kept them out.
"That takes some character to do against a team with a whole host of representative players and us with not too many at all.
"The character shown, the positional play and the determination shown in defence was outstanding and repelled most of their attack. All credit to my boys."
COVID Statement - Hull KR
With key players missing for Rovers, a statement then followed on Saturday morning confirming additional COVID-19 cases in the squad - perhaps explaining some of the major absentees.
The following statement appeared on Hull KR’s website:
“Hull Kingston Rovers can confirm a second positive covid-19 case within the playing group.
This adds to the previous four players in isolation, bringing the total to five.
The club are following all current government guidelines, with player and staff safety paramount.
No further comment will be made at this time.“
Wigan Warriors: Hastings; Bibby, Isa, Gildart, Marshall; Leuluai, Smith; Bullock, Powell, Singleton, Bateman, Farrell, Partington.
Interchanges: Byrne, Havard, Shorrocks, Pearce-Paul.
Hull KR: Quinlan; Crooks, Minikin, Kenny-Dowall, Hall; Takairangi, Lewis; Lawler, Parcell, Maher, Johnson, Linnett, Hadley.
Interchanges: Vete, Litten, King, Storton.
Sin-bin: King (31).
Referee: Robert Hicks.