Hull KR 10 Wigan Warriors 28

Sam Tomkins
Sam Tomkins
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A decade after marking his big-stage debut in a Challenge Cup match, Sam Tomkins helped send Wigan into the quarter-finals with a victory at 12-man Hull KR.

The win was more nervy than the final scoreline suggested, with the score locked 10-10 until the hour-mark when Tomkins swept over for a try he converted.

He added a penalty moments later before late tries by Tony Clubb and Tom Davies added a lick of gloss.

It was 10 years and a day since Tomkins' five-try debut, and his cool-head and influence played a big role in steering them home.

But Hull KR deserve credit for a real dig, particularly early in the second-half after Danny Tickle - a Challenge Cup finalist with Wigan in 2004 - was sent off for punching John Bateman.

Warriors forward Bateman himself was sinbinned for the initial offence, lashing out at Tickle in the tackle. Robins full-back Adam Quinlan also saw yellow for a separate offence but it wasn't really a stormy game.

The visitors were far from at their best but had the class to pull clear in the final quarter, and their reward was a place in the quarter-finals.

Hull KR caused a huge shock by knocking Wigan out of the Cup in 2015, but with 10 front-line players missing through injury, few expected a repeat result.

As expected, Liam Farrell and Sean O'Loughlin returned for Wigan, who lost George Williams to a wrist injury and gave a start at halfback to Josh Woods.

Wigan opened the scoring in the 10th minute.

Tomkins' raking 40-20 put them in good position and, in the following set, Woods stepped through the KR line and under the sticks for a try which the former converted.

KR, though, proved resilient opposition and pulled a try back in the 21st minute.

Tommy Lee released Quinlan, who punished a napping right-side defence to send hooker Chris Atkin over. Winger Ryan Shaw couldn't convert.

The Warriors forced an error from the subsequent set, gifting them an immediate chance to respond. A right-to-left attack finished with Liam Marshall going to air and spectacularly grounding in the corner.

Sam Tomkins' conversion attempt rebounded off the upright, giving them a 10-4 lead. And that is how the scoreline remained until half-time, but there was no shortage of drama,

Quinlan was sinbinned for preventing Wigan from taking a quick 20m tap, and the visitors had several scoring chances which they couldn't take. The lively Woods sent a looping pass straight into touch, Farrell had a try ruled out for a forward pass from Oliver Gildart, who himself was forced into touch from another attack.

And then came the major flashpoint of the first-half, as Bateman and Tickle clashed in the tackle and - as the hooter sounded - sparked a brief melee. Referee Chris Kendall spoke to both touch-judges before sin-binning Bateman and then, once he had walked off the pitch, producing a red-card for Tickle.

Perhaps feeling aggrieved by the decision, Hull KR started the second-half with real purpose and had the visitors on the ropes for a large spell.

Sam Tomkins pulled off a great try-saver on Quinlan, but Wigan's line eventually creeked under the weight of KR's possession and Junior Vaivai finished an improvised attack in the 50th minute.

Wigan just couldn't get their hands on the ball, and when they were again penalised - within range - it presented Shaw the chance to lock the scores, 10-10.

The exchanges were scrappy and the Warriors certainly weren't impressive, but given the do-or-die nature of the content it ratcheted up the tensions and made for compelling viewing.

The prospect of Wigan bowing out of the competition - against massive-underdogs - was on the cards. That was until Tomkins took the ball on a right-edge attack, arced around his marker and then arrowed for the line for a 62nd minute try. He coolly slotted over the difficult conversion... and flashed a smile to the home fans who had hurled abuse his way.

Moments later, Dan Sarginson was collared high, and Tomkins struck the resulting penalty to wedge an eight-point gap between the sides. KR suffered a blow with prop Robbie Mulhern limping off.

And then Clubb secured their place in the quarter-final, crossing from close range - for his sixth try of the campaign.

Hull KR: Quinlan; Shaw, Salter, Vaivai, Wallis; Lee, Blair; Mulhearn, Atkin, Johnson, Tickle, Greenwood, Cator. Subs: Masoe, Donaldson, Walne, Marsh.

Wigan: S Tomkins; Davies, Sarginson, Gildart, Marshall; Woods, Powell; Clubb, Leuluai, Flower, Bateman, Farrell, O'Loughlin. Subs: Isa, Sutton, J Tomkins, Tautai.

Referee: Chris Kendall

Half-time: 4-10

Attendance: 3,524

Starman: Sam Tomkins