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 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 at any rugby league venue across the world.
Every one of the six tries they scored was of supreme quality. You feared the worst for them when Wigan took an early lead courtesy of Sam Powell, but the manner of Hull KR’s response was not what you would expect from a side who have been bottom of the table 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.
“We’ve been getting better. I’m not sure you could have predicted that scoreline but I’m not surprised that we’re coming together,” said the Hull KR coach, Tony Smith. With relegation off the agenda this season, there is now an opportunity for them to offer experience to their young squad without the pressure that comes with being lowly placed in the table. That seems to have freed them of any restrictions, certainly judging by the effervescent way they played here.
This was an unusually-poor performance from Wigan, though. Granted, the manner in which Hull KR played would have beaten most sides in Super League, but this was certainly a below-par display from a team who have led the way for most of this season. Back-to-back tries from the Robins made it 16-6 before Wigan replied courtesy of Harry Smith.
However they would not score again until the final 10 minutes and by then the game was long gone for them after three more sensational Hull KR tries. “We made some changes and I was hoping for some energy and enthusiasm, but I thought we were out-enthused,” admitted Wigan’s coach, Adrian Lam.
When Greg Minikin scored his second following a superb piece of build-up play, it gave Rovers a 22-12 half-time lead. They would not stop there either. Within minutes of the restart they were further ahead as the outstanding Jordan Abdull sent Dean Hadley over, and he was involved moments later to help Minikin complete his hat-trick.
Hull KR were just as impressive at the other end too and by the time they were breached in the 70th minute by Jackson Hastings, the result had long since been secured.
Castleford secured their first victory since the Super League restart, after overturning an early 18-0 deficit to defeat Salford 37-30. Tries from Danny Richardson, Michael Shenton and Paul McShane helped Castleford draw level after falling behind to a fast start from the Red Devils.
The sides went in at the break with the scores level at 24-24 and they could not be split with 10 minutes remaining, after Mike McMeeken’s try for Castleford was cancelled out by a Rhys Williams effort for Salford. However, Danny Richardson’s drop goal put the Tigers back ahead before a late try from Grant Millington ensured Daryl Powell’s side moved level on points with the fourth-placed Catalans.