Hull FC 14 Wigan Warriors 15: Five things we learned
Five things we learned from Wigan's 15-14 win at Hull FC last night...
1. This was the proverbial four-pointer - and victory kept Wigan's top-three hopes alive.
Had they lost, third-placed Hull FC would have moved six points clear of Adrian Lam's side.
But this narrow win cut the gap to just two points with five rounds to go.
Under the play-offs structure, there is a big incentive to finish third, instead of fourth - including the safety net of a 'second chance' if they lose in the opening week.
Wigan, who have a 121 points better for-and-against than FC, have four games at home during their home straight against Hull KR, Warrington, Catalans and Castleford, with a trip to Wakefield sandwiched in the middle.
Hull FC's last five matches are against: Wakefield (a), Salford (h), Huddersfield (h), Castleford (a) and St Helens (h).
2. It mirrored the Golden Point match at the DW Stadium earlier this year, only this time Zak Hardaker upstaged drop-goal expert Marc Sneyd with a stunning 40m effort with four minutes to go.
The match had many errors and interruptions but the intensity, tight scoreline and needle made it absorbing.
As an aside, Jarrod Sammut was on the bench but didn't get on... the second time that has happened this year. Will his spot go to Bevan French, who was watching with staff from his new club?
3. Liam Marshall's two tries included a rare 'eight point try', as he was tackled in the air as he collected Thomas Leuluai's chip.
It prompted a debate among the Sky Sports commentators about whether it was a harsh call or not, but FC coach Lee Radford had no problem with the decision, and said the officials made the correct call.
Radford is a classy operator, and admitted he hooked halfback Albert Kelly because of an error-strewn first hour.
4. The two-tries-to-one victory was underpinned by a magnificent defensive effort by Wigan.
Young forwards Morgan Smithies, Liam Byrne and Ollie Partington all stood tall, Willie Isa was magnificent and Thomas Leuluai put his lethal shoulder to good use.
And their courageous defensive effort was illustrated when Wigan prop Tony Clubb rolled back the years to his days as a three-quarter to cut down Hull's pacy winger Ratu Naulago with a stunning cover tackle.
5. There was one obvious disappointment for Wigan - the fresh injury suffered by Sean O'Loughlin.
The 36-year-old tore his pectoral and Adrian Lam cast doubt on whether he will play again this year.
His loss would be a blow to the side, but more so to the player who had previously spoken of his hopes of leading Great Britain's tour Down Under.
O'Loughlin has been in talks with Wigan about playing on next year but, as it stands, is out of contract at the end of the season.