SAM Tomkins bagged four tries to thwart a passionate Hull KR as Wigan moved through to the last eight of the Challenge Cup, capping off a remarkable weekend of sport for the town.
Rovers hit every tackle with force and made yards easily in the early stages, with Wigan’s task being made even harder with the early loss of Blake Green – forcing Sean O’Loughlin and Sam Powell into a makeshift halfback formation.
It took until the 35th minute for Wigan to break down the aggressive Rovers defence and it took clever footwork from Man of Steel Tomkins to score the vital try.
Wigan spent the first half hour struggling to contend with a Hull KR side obviously looking to settle a score after their record 84-6 defeat to the Warriors in March and they looked a different side this time out.
At 4-0 down and unable to find the creative wizardry which has seen so many defences carved to pieces this term, the dose of Tomkins magic lifted the whole team.
And Shaun Wane’s most prized asset struck again on the half time bell to put Wigan 12-4 in front when he dabbed a kick through to pounce on himself underneath the posts.
The game couldn’t have started more differently as Rovers left Wigan shellshocked by going in front after just two minutes after making a Cory Paterson short kick off work.
This forced a drop-out at the end of the first set when a Michel Dobson kick caught Powell in his own in goal.
Pat Richards’ 70-yard drop out looked to have eased the early pressure but Dobson was once again on hand with a sweet kick for David Hodgson to open the scoring.
The Warriors lost Green as an apparent Paterson shoulder charge put him down after he tried to put Harrison Hansen through a gap with a trademark short ball.
Referee Richard Silverwood didn’t see enough of the incident to do anything other than put the second rower on report but Wigan’s cause looked in danger with the prospect of having to play 72 minutes without any first choice halves.
The Warriors did manage to make some chances but whereas everything stuck when the sides met in Super League, nothing was sticking here.
Powell managed to put Hansen through a tight gap to bring Wigan within inches of the line and Rovers were placed on a team warning for persistent infringements around the ruck.
But Wigan couldn’t find the answer from the resulting penalty and O’Loughlin threw the kind of long pass he normally masters to the floor for Craig Hall to scoop up and then send Hodgson on another break.
With no defenders back from the break, Dobson tried a neat kick over for Greg Eden to chase but luckily for Wigan it bobbled into touch before he could finish the move.
Within 10 minutes of the restart Wigan stuck with three fatal swipes to ensure the Robins could not fight back.
Tomkins rounded-off his hat-trick in the 43rd minute when Hansen threw a Green-like inside ball to send Richards on his way before the supporting Tomkins finished to put Wigan in a commanding 18-4 lead. And Tomkins was involved in the next – stroking a neat grubber under the posts for Richards to claim a try.
Josh Charnley banished his memories of picking up a nasty 15-stitch leg gash in his last visit to Craven Park by latching on to a kick from Powell to put the result almost beyond doubt with half an hour still to play.
But Wigan weren’t done and Tomkins was involved yet again as he slipped a nifty pass to Iain Thornley to race the length of the field.
Rovers did hit back with Hall as Charnley made a hash of taking a Dobson kick behind his own line but it would make little difference with time running out.
With quarter of an hour to go, Liam Farrell burst through with an arching run to score by the corner post, prompting the home crowd to start filtering out after such a promising first half.
Tomkins’ fourth came in from a classy kick over from O’Loughlin but the scoring was finished-off with Hall’s second as he broke clear in the dying moments.
Tries: Hall 2, Hodgson
Tries: Tomkins 4, Richards, Charnley, Thornley, Farrell
Goals: Richards 7