Wigan Warriors 34 Hull KR 20

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IAIN Thornley’s hat-trick and a second-half shutout saw Wigan fight back to beat Hull KR.

It looked like the night would be plain sailing for the champions as they chalked-up a two-try lead inside the first 10 minutes.

Iain Thronley charges for the line

Iain Thronley charges for the line

Video referee Steve Ganson gave Thornley the green light after he touched down in the fifth minute - and Matty Bowen claimed the try of the match to double their lead five minutes later.

Wigan were looking for their groove and a sweet kick from Blake Green across to Joe Burgess would also have made for an attractive try had it stuck.

But Bowen enlightened the crowd with the kind of magic the NRL’s North Queensland Cowboys fans loved him for, taking a difficult kick from Travis Burns in his own 10 and blasting out the traps at a speed which would have given Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Lord Windermere a run for his money before touching down.

But Warriors’ ideas ran dry quickly with Rovers snatching three tries without reply in a 12-minute spell.

Jamie Langley opened the away side’s account with quarter of an hour gone before Liam Salter’s effort nudged them in front when the centre beat Burgess in a one-on-one tackle.

Things got worse for Wigan as the half-hour approached when Kris Welham strolled over for an easy try - Josh Charnley shot out of the line allowing Kris Keating’s pass to find an overlap.

The home side looked to have steadied the ship when Thornley showed smooth footwork to narrow the gap but the Robins weren’t done before the break.

Jordan James knocked-on deep in his own territory when trying to play the ball, allowing Rovers the position to set Ben Cockayne up for a try, again with the aid of an overlap.

A no try decision for obstruction prevented Charnley from confiscating Rovers’ lead as the seconds ticked down for the break but the sides were soon on level terms when the second half kicked off.

A Burgess break, escorted by a Green pass four minutes into the half, allowed the young winger to find Liam Farrell. Smith’s second conversion of the night finished the job.

And 20 minutes later, Wigan reclaimed the lead when Smith found Ben Flower with a short pass for the Welshman to crash over from close range.

Smith added a penalty goal to give Warriors fans a chance to breathe before Thornley’s hat-trick sealed the points.

READ TOMORROW’S WIGAN EVENING POST (Saturday) for Phil Wilkinson’s full match report and reaction.

Wigan Warriors: Matty Bowen; Josh Charnley, Darrell Goulding, Iain Thornley, Joe Burgess; Blake Green, Matty Smith; Scott Taylor, Logan Tomkins, Dom Crosby, Liam Farrell, Jack Hughes; Ben Flower

Replacements: Eddy Pettybourne, John Bateman, George Williams, Jordan James

Wigan Warriors:

Tries: Thornley 3, Bowen, Farrell, Flower

Goals: Smith 5

Hull KR: Greg Eden; Ben Cockayne, Kris Welham, Liam Salter, Ade Gardner; Travis Burns, Kris Keating; Justin Poore, Josh Hodgson, Michael Weyman, Kevin Larroyer, Neville Costigan; Jamie Langley

Replacements: Adam Walker, Graeme Horne, Jordon Cox, James Green

Tries: Langley, Salter, Welham, Cockayne

Goals: Burns 2

Halt-time: 14-20

Attendance: 12,801