York City Knights 0 Wigan Warriors 26: Adrian Lam's side march on

Teenagers Sam Halsall and Umyla Hanley registered their first senior tries as Wigan cruised into the quarter-finals of the Challenge Cup.

Friday, 9th April 2021, 9:43 pm
Updated Friday, 9th April 2021, 9:44 pm
Sam Halsall celebrates his try with Harry Smith and Umyla Hanley

Depleted York were spirited throughout but the Warriors ultimately had too much power and panache for their Championship hosts.

Centre Halsall, 19, and 18-year-old Hanley were among their five different tryscorers, former Man of Steel winners Jackson Hastings and Zak Hardaker showed their class throughout and recalled Tony Clubb led a hungry defensive effort.

There were too many penalties, errors and squandered chances for this to be labelled a slick display from the Warriors, but it was more than enough to avoid a huge Cup upset.

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Zak Hardaker slides over for the opening try

They had to wait until the 20th minute for Hardaker to register their first try before further touchdowns from Harry Smith and Halsall made it 14-0 at the break. Hanley and Clubb crossed for second-half tries while Hardaker finished with three goals from five strikes.

Lam had said 'respect' was the key work in their preparations, and he showed as much by naming a strong squad with just two changes to the line-up which beat Wakefield 34-6 in their last outing.

Youngster Halsall got his second senior chance at centre, with Liam Farrell not included, while Smith replaced the rested Thomas Leuluai at halfback and veteran prop Clubb came into the team for his first appearance this year.

York's side featured former Super League players Kieran Dixon, Danny Washbrook and Challenge Cup winner Adam Cuthbertson. But with some absentees, they also had two 17-year-olds on debut in their side as well as Tyme Dow-Nikau, son of former star Tawera.

In their first meeting since 1984, they observed a minute's silence before kick-off following the death of Prince Philip before the action got underway at a smart, near-empty LNER Stadium.

In Wigan's previous two Super League games this year, they had to absorb some early pressure from their underdog opponents before taking a grip. And this contest followed the same tone, with York starting vibrantly and taking advantage of a couple of spills and penalties from the visitors.

Yet there was a sense they wouldn't be able to maintain their tempo and, midway through the first-half, Wigan began to take control. After Morgan Smithies had a try ruled out for a double movement, Hardaker posted the first points, blazing onto Hastings' pass to angle through a gap for a try he couldn't convert.

Hardaker is clearly reveling in the full-back role in the absence of Bevan French, and looks sharper, leaner and quicker. He couldn't add the conversion but Wigan dialed up the intensity, Halsall doing well to collect a high ball and force the ball which eventually led to Smith crossing.

And halfback Smith repaid the favour moments later, finishing an attack with a slick pass for centre Halsall - who formed an ex-Shevington Sharks centre-wing partnership with Hanley - to storm over for his debut try for the club. Hardaker's first goal made it 14-0.

York were revived by the break and again started brightly, taking advantage of some messy Wigan play to pressure the visitors' line.

But like the first half, Lam's men soon settled into their groove, and it was nice to see Hastings - having carved through the York defence - then unselfishly send over teenage winger Hanley for the side's fourth try, having fumbled the ball earlier. Hardaker's conversion opened up a 20 point gap.

Clubb powered over to make it 26-0 but to their immense credit, the City Knights didn't crumble. Hanley and Hastings both had chances to extend their lead chalked off by the official and while York didn't get on the scoreboard, they earned much admiration for this encouraging display.

The draw for the next round is at half-time during the Catalans game tomorrow (Saturday).

York City Knights: Harrison; Whiteley, Dow-Nikau, Salter, K Dixon; Marsh, Washbrook; Green, Jubb, Cuthbertson, Porter, Scott, Spears. Subs: Barcoe, R Dixon, Stock, Towse.

Wigan Warriors: Hardaker; Bibby, Isa, Halsall, Hanley; Smith, Hastings; Singleton, Powell, Bullock, Bateman, Smithies, Partington. Subs: Byrne, Clubb, Havard, Shorrocks.