SHAUN Wane got his tenure as head coach off to a winning start as Wigan came from behind to beat Hull KR in their first pre-season game of the year.
And the manner of the performance was encouraging, particularly in the second-half which the reigning Challenge Cup holders raced in three unanswered tries including a double from Pat Richards.
Hull KR deserve credit, too, for their contribution towards a largely entertaining game in which the overall quality, pace and intensity was high for a first hit-out of the year.
The score was tied 6-6 at the break as Jake Webster’s opener was cancelled out in the final minute of the first-half by a try from young full-back Matt Russell.
Richards’ double sandwiched a try by Josh Charnley to secure the victory in a second-half in which Robins rarely troubled the Wigan line.
Action-starved fans of both clubs turned out in droves on a bitterly cold afternoon to get a glimpse of their new signings - as well as watch their sides under the control of their respective new coaches.
As promised, Wane named all four off-season signings - Anthony Gelling, Epalahame Lauaki, Gil Dudson and Ben Flower - in his squad. All appeared to have settled into the side and at various points each of them had their moments, without excelling.
And with Sean O’Loughlin, Stuart Fielden, Amos Roberts, Thomas Leuluai, Sam Tomkins, Paul Prescott, George Carmont and Gareth Hock either unavailable or rested, Wane gave several young-guns a chance in the side.
Russell, half-back Sam Powell and hooker Logan Tomkins all started while Joe Mellor, Jack Hughes and Tom Spencer made their mark off the bench.
KR had the first scoring chance through Rhys Lovegrove, but that move was snuffed out by an alert Harrison Hansen.
KR broke the scoring deadlock in the 17th minute when Aussie stand-off Blake Green drilled a grubber kick through the line which Brett Finch couldn’t collect, and Webster was on hand to touch down.
Winger Craig Hall - kicking in place of the injured Michael Dobson - tagged on the extras to make it 6-0.
Gradually, the Warriors improved, and just before half-time, their pressure paid off with a well-deserved try in which Darrell Goulding - defensively strong throughout in his old centre role - played a key part.
Finch spread the ball to the right, Goulding angled in on a strong charge and then released the ball to Russell with a sweet pass. From there, the teenage full-back turned on the afterburners to race between the sticks, making the conversion by RIchards a formality.
Australian winger Richards powered the visitors ahead shortly after the re-start, gratefully gobbling up a fumble by Wigan oldboy David Hodgson to cross unopposed. He converted his own try to make it 12-6.
Wane’s men registered their third try in the 71st minute, another neat offload from Goulding seeing Charnley power over for a try converted by Richards.
Flower’s surging break from the kick-off laid the platform for another raid and - though that move fizzled out - Richards ensured there would be no late upset with his second try from Finch’s pass moments later.
Wigan are in action this Thursday against Huddersfield in O’Loughlin’s testimonial game at the DW Stadium, before completing their pre-season programme five days later at Salford.
Hull KR: McDonnell; Hall, Webster, Lovegrove, D Hodgson; B Green, Murrell; Paea, Withers, Taylor, Mika, Galea, J Hodgson.
Subs: Clinton, Watts, J Green, Latus, Heil, Ollett, Johnson, Salter, Bell, Netherton, Carlile, Wheeldon, Peterson.
Wigan: Russell; Charnley, Goulding, Gelling, Richards; Finch, Powell; Lima, L Tomkins, Lauaki, Hansen, Farrell, Tuson.
Subs: Mossop, McIlorum, Dudson, Flower, Mellor, Hughes, Spencer.
Referee: Phil Bentham