Wigan 16 Hull FC 30
Hull FC powered to a deserved victory to upstage Sam Tomkins' try-scoring return.
For a spell, it looked as if the full-back - playing his first game for Warriors since the 2013 Grand Final - would get a Hollywood-scripted comeback.
But his ‘second debut’ ended in defeat as FC punctured Wigan’s second-half fightback with two quickfire tries.
It moved the visitors two points clear into second and, for the Warriors, marked their third home Super League defeat already this year.
There were flashes of quality and signs of encouragement early in the second-half, but over the course of the 80 minutes they didn’t deserve the win. There were too many errors, too many penalties and too many lifeless attacks - flaws that have littered their early-season form.
And several senior players produced performance well-down on their usual standards.
John Bateman again impressed, and the long-awaited return of Tomkins was another huge positive.
The full-back was reintroduced just before half-time to a raucous reception.
He had asked for patience as he got back up to speed but his touches were fine, and he capped his solid outing by ducking over for a try in the 58th minute.
That score closed the gap to just 18-16 and hinted of a fightback, after FC had taken an 18-0 lead by midway through the opening half.
But Wigan’s resurgence crumbled as tries by Jamie Shaul and Fetuli Talanoa wedged a 12-point gap between the sides and FC clung on for a deserved win.
Tomkins’ return had already created a buzz around the stadium in the build-up, and that was only amplified by the induction of Frano Botica and Colin Clarke into the club’s Hall of Fame before kick-off. Martin Offiah was later added to that coveted club at half-time.
But the atmosphere was killed by FC’s opener in the third minute. Willie Isa was penalised for holding down, allowing the visitors to march down field and Marc Sneyd ghosted through for the game’s opener.
That was the first of three tries in the opening 15 minutes, and the damage could have been more severe had Mark Minichiello been able to collect Gareth Ellis’ pass after he swept beyond Lee Mossop.
Steve Michaels finished off a flowing attack which again came from another punishing penalty. George Williams reacted to the try with an accusatory glance across to the middle for leaving the left-side defence stretched.
Hull’s third try was presented to them, gift-wrapped, in a comedy of errors.
Dan Sarginson fielded a clearing kick, but his wild pass was behind Oliver Gildart, who rushed to rake the ball into play but, in doing so, gave Mahe Fonua the simple task of picking up and sending Scott Taylor charging over.
Suddenly, Wigan found themselves 16 points down in as many minutes.
The game quickly dropped into a scrappy affair with little quality, and lots of penalties. Hull FC used one of those to nudge further ahead through the boot of Sneyd.
Wigan improved enough to prevent any further score, and before Tomkins was reintroduced from the bench, got off the mark themselves when Gildart’s neat step opened up FC’s right edge.
The home side, though, were frequently scrappy and posed FC few problems, and there was little improvement in the start of the second-half.
That was until Bateman - ever-impressive - took matters into his own hands by forcing his way over on a dogged, determined run. Smith’s conversion cut the margin to eight points with more than a quarter of the match to go.
And that score seemed to breathe life into Wigan, who forced an error out of FC and began attacking with more purpose and aggression, even before Tomkins angled for the line, ducked and forced his way over.
But Wigan couldn’t keep the momentum going, and - having raised hopes - they were doused pretty quickly by Shaul’s 65th-minute breakaway try, before Talanoa’s athletic finish in the corner cemented their win.
Wigan: Sarginson; Charnley, Gildart, Bateman, Manfredi; Williams, Smith; Crosby, Powell, Mossop, J Tomkins, Isa, O’Loughlin. Subs: S Tomkins, Clubb, Tautai, Sutton.
Hull FC: Shaul; Michaels, Fonua, Yeaman, Talanoa; Pryce, Sneyd; Taylor, Houghton, Watts, Washbrook, Minichiello, Ellis. Subs: Manu, Green, Thompson, Bowden.
Referee: Ben Thaler
Starman: John Bateman