Five things we learned from Wigan’s historic 24-10 win against Hull FC in Australia...
1. Shaun Wane was desperate for the two points, but this was more than about the game.
Wigan took this ‘home’ fixture to Wollongong to raise money and, in the process, raise their profile and that of Super League.
It’s all very well making history, of course, but you want to win, too.
Wigan were triumphant when they played in Milwaukee, USA, and in the first World Club Challenge Down Under. And when they entered the Twickenham Sevens and the Sydney Sevens, they won those as well.
And now they can add this to their glorious history - winning the first Super League game staged outside of Europe (not the UK, as the Kenny-Sterling Shield says).
They move on to this Saturday’s double-header, and a glamorous exhibition match against South Sydney.
2. The size of the crowd was never going to be the gauge of this game’s success, but even the most cynical would say it was a good effort to attract 12,416 to Win Stadium.
That figure was more than the crowd figure any of the three Super League games between these two sides last year.
Thousands travelled over from Wigan and Hull, mingling with the ex-pats and neutrals. It would be interesting to know what the locals thought of the Old Faithful song - or some of the banners, including, ‘We came, we conquered, we ate your pies’!
The sight of sweltering Wigan fans sat on the grass verge, backs to the Pacific, was quite surreal.
3. And so to the game itself and while it was entertaining, the standard wasn’t great.
Maybe the heat, humidity and travel were factors for some of the embarrassing errors, including a communication breakdown dealing with a kick for each side.
But as well as the spills, there were thrills, and moments of real quality. George Williams was the ringmaster when Wigan were at their best - a tip of the hat for reviving the runaround, with Liam Farrell! - and Hull’s effort to cover for the loss of two players to injury was admirable, as was Fetuli Talanoa’s finish for his try.
It wasn’t a classic, not by a stretch, but highlights reel of this game could make it appear like one.
4. Liam Marshall kept his place despite the return to fitness of Joe Burgess, and his two early tries went some way towards justifying Shaun Wane’s decision.
Yes, Marshall knocked-on from a kick-off, but he certainly wasn’t alone in making errors.
Like at Salford the previous week, he made a sparkling contribution, and the way he turned on the after-burners to evade the Hull cover for his second try was wonderful. Only some wrong pass-options before the break denied him a hat-trick.
5. A lot has been said about Sam Tomkins, and the fluid role he is playing - starting at full-back and moving into the halves.
But what about his goal-kicking?
These are early days but his off-season work with kicking consultant Charlie Hodgson appears to be paying off.
He struck six from seven at Salford on the opening night, and backed that up with four goals from five attempts in Wollongong - with legendary marksman Pat Richards watching on from the stands. Ex-Warriors Mark Riddell and Cameron Phelps were also there and took part in a legends touch match in the curtain-raiser.