Wigan 14 Hull FC 12

Wigan head into next Friday's semi-final on the back of a clean-sweep of victories in the Super-8s - but this was tough going.

Friday, 28th September 2018, 10:05 pm
Updated Friday, 28th September 2018, 11:27 pm
Wigan Warriors' Dan Sarginson is congratulated on scoring his team's 2nd try

The Warriors trailed 12-10 midway through the second-half when Oliver Gildart wriggled over to put them ahead for the first time.

And they managed to cling on and repel Hull's late fightback in a tense, if scrappy, finish.

It ensured Wigan became the first side to go through the top-tier Super-8s winning all their matches and, in the process, condemned FC to an 11th straight defeat in their final game of their campaign.

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Wigan Warriors' Tony Clubb is tackled

With nothing at stake, there was always the danger this game would fall flat and for large spells - and certainly most of the first-half - it did.

But the close scoreline at least made the second-half entertaining in its own way, a case of the frequent spills contributing to the seesawing thrills.

All eyes now turn to the visit of Castleford next Friday, when the prize at stake is a place in the October 13 Grand Final.

Wane kept to his promise of keeping key players Sean O'Loughlin, Thomas Leuluai and Sam Tomkins on ice for the semi-final.

Liam Farrell returned from a shoulder injury which had sidelined him for nine matches - he was named on the bench alongside Craig Mullen, who made only his second senior appearance.

Wigan trailed 12-6 after a lacklustre first-half. When one of the highlights was watching Jake Connor single-handedly wind-up half the Warriors squad, you know it is a poor spectacle.

But the early signs were actually encouraging.

George Williams showed intent and purpose, linking well with Joe Greenwood on the left edge and Ryan Sutton later crashing over, only to lose possession.

Hull, though, had chances of their own, most notably Jamie Shaul's blazing run. And the visitors were first to strike on the quarter-mark, Carlos Tuimavave scrambling over for a try which Connor converted.

Farrell came off the bench, replacing Greenwood when he left for a head injury assessment, and they had further chances but their attack ranged from pedestrian to misfiring.

FC had more adventure, Connor kicking against the grain and the chasing Shaul pounced near the posts. Connor's goal put FC into a surprise 12-0 lead.

Wigan went some way towards suggesting they had resumed normal service when Gabe 'The Hammer' Hamlin angled onto Josh Woods' pass and wriggled out of Shaul's tackle. Woods tagged on the extras. A little needle crept into the contest - most of it involving Connor, who missed with a drop-goal attempt on the whistle.

After an early blemish, Wigan began the second-half with more purpose but still lacked composure.

Their best chances were two free-plays, which saw first Taulima Tautai and then Farrell kick for the wingers, but neither came off.

Tautai was placed on report for a challenge on Shaul which left the FC No.1 needing treatment, after defusing Woods' stabbed kick.

With their passing so poor, their kicking game seemed to become their preferred attacking option. And in the 53rd minute, Williams floated a ball over which Dan Sarginson plucked from the air to cross. Woods missed the conversion, giving FC a two point advantage.

But at this stage, the hosts certainly looked the better side. They dialed up the pace of their play and, with Romain Navarrete eating up the metres down the middle, Gildart scored the points out wide, twisting out of a knot of defenders to put them ahead for the first time. Woods was again off-target.

Mullen, making his home debut, was introduced at a time when Hull rallied to reclaim the lead. Connor's kick earned them a repeat set deep into Wigan's territory - but they absorbed those blows and countered well.

Once again, their execution couldn't match their effort, Manfredi's defence-busting angled run their best chance before they were forced into another spell of defending.

Wigan: Escare; Manfredi, Gildart, Sarginson, Davies; Wiliams, Woods; Sutton, Powell, Navarrete, Bateman, Greenwood, Clubb. Subs: Hamlin, Farrell, Mullen, Tautai.

Hull FC: Shaun; Faraimo, Tuimavave, Scott, Talanoa; Abdull, Connor; Matongo, Houghton, Tayor, Washbrook, Griffin, Fash. Subs: Bienek, Litten, Miloudi, Paea.

Referee: Liam Moore

Half-time: 6-12

Attendance: 11,189

Starman: Oliver Gildart