SAM Tomkins kicked a dramatic late penalty to clinch Wigan victory – after his older brother Joel had been sent off.
Michael Maguire’s side looked to be heading for a second defeat in their second match at the DW Stadium this year after Hull FC went 12-4 ahead early in the second-half.
But Josh Charnley dragged the home side back into the contest with his second try to make it 12-12 – and in the dying minutes full-back Tomkins stepped up to hit the decisive goal.
It was an exciting end to a match in which Wigan – who rarely hit top-gear – maintained their unbeaten start to the Super League campaign.
Wigan trailed 10-4 at half-time after Ryan Hoffman’s opener was followed by tries from Hull’s Joe Westerman and Tom Briscoe, all the first-half scores before the 20 minute mark.
Joh Charnley ran in two tries in the second-half, but the real talking point was Joel Tomkins’ red-card for an elbow on Hull FC centre Kirk Yeaman.
The pair had been warned by referee Steve Ganson for a fight just before the second-rower was given his marching orders for charging at the England centre with his elbow raised.
Michael Maguire kept faith with the same line-up that beat Salford 32-16 a week ago, giving Stefan Marsh another chance to impress in place of the missing Martin Gleeson.
The former England centre is thought to have been sacked for a disciplinary reason, but Warriors have remained tight-lipped.
Australian winger Amos Roberts was fit-again but had to settle for a role as the 18th man, with Maguire opting for young flyer Charnley instead.
As expected, coach Richard Agar named Cameron Phelps at full-back for his Hull FC debut against the club that released him at the end of last season.
The Black and Whites had not won at Wigan since 2005 and after a poor start to the season, not many fancied their chances of ending that run yesterday.
Agar’s side went into the encounter with just one win from four and without influential halfback Sean Long.
The Warriors had opened the scoring in all four of their previous matches this year and, true to form, were quick out of the blocks again, with Hoffman marking his home Super League debut with the opening try in fine fashion.
Phelps appeared to have Paul Deacon’s chip covered, but the pursuing Hoffman challenged him for the ball and came away with the goods. Deacon’s conversion attempt hit the upright.
The visitors responded stylishly, the impressive Sam Obst carving through the defence and finding Lee Radford in support. The prop was hauled down by Sam Tomkins but a resulting penalty marched Hull further down field, and Joe Westerman managed to squeeze over in the corner.
Ganson awarded the try despite some protests from the home fans that Westerman had ‘bounced’ the ball while grounding it. Danny Tickle was off target with the goal, keeping the scores at 4-4.
Paul Deacon was forced to leave the action in the 15th minute after a bad knock to the head. Liam Farrell went on in his place, forcing Sean O’Loughlin to switch to the stand-off role.
Deacon’s loss perhaps part explained why Maguire’s side struggled to find their usual cohesion and composure.
Hull, by contrast, were growing in confidence and with Phelps becoming more and more involved, they took the lead in the 17th minute.
Phelps’ kick paved the way for a repeat set, from which position Richard Horne floated a ball over that Tom Briscoe plucked from the air and grounded just before he was bundled over the deadball line. Tickle’s goal opened up a six-point lead.
Wigan tried to respond but their last-play options lacked the razor-sharp execution and unpredictability that fans have come to expect, and the game lulled for a spell as the two well-matched packs battled to establish their dominance.
Sam Tomkins – who came in for plenty of special attention from Hull’s forwards – and O’Loughlin tried their best to kickstart the team but the longer they went without scoring, the more anxious they appeared.
Goulding and Marsh both went close in the far right corner, yet Hull were proving tricky opponents to break down.
Joel Tomkins’ introduction from the bench added some menace to Wigan’s attack, and it appeared he had made the breakthrough when he smashed through Richard Horne’s tackle on the halfway and arced towards the line, only to be forced into touch by Briscoe.
Willie Manu’s surging break gave Hull the early impetus in the second-half and with Wigan turning the ball over far too cheaply, the visitors stretched their advantage to eight-points when Westerman kicked a 47th minute penalty.
Slowly but surely, Wigan began to impose themselves on the match. Sam Tomkins exploited an overlap on the right and while that promising move broke down, it was a sign of what was to come.
O’Loughlin and Carmont punched holes down Hull’s right flank and after forcing a drop-out, they managed to break Hull’s resistance down the same side when O’Loughlin’s looping cut-out pass sent Charnley over in the corner for try Sam Tomkins could not convert.
Trailing by four points as the game entered the final quarter, fans knew the next score could prove decisive. An ongoing duel between Joel Tomkins and Yeaman boiled over when the pair traded blows off-the-ball. Brother Sam Tomkins entered the fight.
After talking to both players, Ganson awarded the penalty in Wigan’s favour - but the heated exchanges reignited when second-rower Tomkins drove the ball in and angled at Yeaman leading with his elbow. All 24 other players rushed in and after the melee had disbanded, Ganson brandished Tomkins a red card.
Down to 12 men, the fans turned up the volume to show their support and Wigan responded with a second Charnley try in the 70th minute. The score was a carbon-copy of his first, with O’Loughlin providing the looping pass. Sadly, Sam Tomkins’ shot at goal was a carbon-copy of his first as well, leaving the score perilously hanging at 12-12.
With five minutes remaining, Westerman was penalised for interference at the play-the-ball and Sam Tomkins duly obliged with the goal.
The drama wasn’t over, though, as Ganson awarded Hull FC a penalty 41m out – and in front of the sticks – but Tickle’s attempt was just wide.