Five things we learned from Wigan’s 24-8 defeat at Hull KR...
1. And who said Super League was becoming predictable?
Hull KR, bottom of the table, pulled off a shock victory against second-placed Wigan to end Shaun Wane’s outfit’s eight-game winning run - and allow St Helens to open up a four-point gap at the top.
This was only the Warriors’ third loss of the season, and the other two had been one-score defeats at Warrington and Saints.
Wigan can’t, and didn’t, blame a clutch of absentees - the Robins had a few frontline players out as well.
Did the announcement of Wane’s pending departure have an impact, or was this just an off-day? That is unknown. What we do know is...
2. Wigan were poor. Really poor.
The team known for their strong finishes actually made an encouraging start. They led 8-0 early on, all the points from the Tomkins brothers, and appeared to have KR exactly where they wanted them.
But their composure crumbled, their defence was unusually fragile and when they did attack, the moves were sluggish and predictable. Trailing 10-8 at the break, KR pulled away with two second-half tries.
Tom Davies ate up the metres (195m), John Bateman had his moments and Liam Farrell was typically consistent, but few players emerged with any credit.
3. Shaun Wane rarely criticises referee after a defeat - but he was unhappy with the way Ben Thaler policed the ruck.
Wane was frustrated that his players were prevented from gaining any momentum, with quick play-the-balls, when they ‘won’ a tackle. Captain Sam Tomkins frequently spoke to Thaler during the match about this issue - his brother Joel was later sin-binned for dissent.
Wane stressed he wasn’t blaming the referee and Hull KR were good value for the two points.
4. Liam Forsyth can’t catch a break.
Having returned to the club from Bath RU 18 months ago, he went on to figure 13 times last season.
He had been unable to force his way into the reckoning this year, even when Dan Sarginson or Oliver Gildart have been absent, with Shaun Wane preferring to switch forward John Bateman instead.
Last night, with both first-choice centres missing, Forsyth got his chance - and limped off in the second-half with a knee problem.
Hopefully it is not a serious injury.
5. Mentioning injuries, Hull KR’s blockbusting winger Justin Carney played the second-half with a broken hand!
It typified their character which will be crucial in their fight to avoid relegation.
Slippery full-back Adam Quinlan pounced on several off-loads as the Robins climbed off the bottom of the ladder. The battle to avoid a bottom-four spot is becoming more interesting each week.