Wigan Warriors 52 Hull KR 10

Liam Farrell faces former team-mate Joel Tomkins
Liam Farrell faces former team-mate Joel Tomkins

Wigan stormed to a fifth straight victory to sharpen the knives ahead of next week's derby with St Helens.

Liam Marshall scored three of their nine tries as they whacked Hull KR with a whirlwind display to register their biggest win of the season.

Some have suggested Adrian Lam's outfit have been operating stealthily for a few weeks - but they are firmly on the radar now.

There was so much to admire about their performance.

From the composure to the cohesion, the swagger to the style, the energy to the enterprise, they simply blew the Robins away with four tries before the break and five after.

To make the win even sweeter, Hull FC lost - allowing Wigan to cut the gap on third place to just two points.

Liam Farrell scored a try in each half while Zak Hardaker, Oliver Gildart, Joe Burgess and the outstanding George Williams also crossed.

The magnitude of the win may have been a surprise to many. Wigan's dramatic 19-18 win at KR last month - courtesy of Sam Powell's stunning drop-goal - sparked the start of a four-game winning streak which elevated them into the play-offs positions for the first time this year.

But during that time, Tony Smith has made his mark as Robins boss, beating two of the top-three - Warrington and Hull FC.

And his side featured key players Danny McGuire and Adam Quinlan, who missed out last time, as well as recent recruit Matt Parcell.

As expected, Lam welcomed back Dan Sarginson and Liam Farrell - replacing injured Sean O'Loughlin (Achilles) and Joe Greenwood (concussion protocol).

It meant Chris Hankinson switched from centre to bench backrower, reinstating Hardaker to the goal-kicking duties - and he rose to the bar by striking four from five in the first-half to help the side into a 24-6 lead.

Wigan continued the form of recent weeks, looking energetic, composed and attacking with width and style.

As early as the fourth minute they were ahead, after two tip-on passes put Gildart into space. He unleashed Burgess and the winger sent the supporting Farrell over.

By the 10th minute they had lost Tony Clubb to a hamstring injury but they powered on, and when Joel Tomkins - on his first return to the DW as an opposition player - was penalised for a tip-tackle on Williams, Hardaker's boot made it 8-0.

So far, so good.

But Farrell's spill inside his own half turned over possession and later in the set, Robins punished the same side as Adam Quinlan afforded too much space to cross. Ryan Shaw nailed the conversion.

That, though, was as good as it got for the Robins for the majority of the match.

Nice link-up play by Williams and Burgess set the platform for Hardaker to send Marshall over - and he crossed again four minutes later to swell the scoreline to 18-6.

Wigan were reduced to 12 men when Romain Navarrete was sinbinned for a late challenge on Weller Hauraki, and they lost their way for a spell.

Thomas Leuluai's thunderous shot on Josh Drinkwater the highlight of their defensive stint as they absorbed what KR threw their way.

The exchanges were scrappy but Wigan rediscovered their touch before the break, Williams doing incredibly well to blaze through midfield and punt the ball on for the chasing Hardaker to score a try which he converted to make it 24-6.

There was a jittery start to the second-half but substitute Joe Bullock atoned for an error with a surging charge down field and, from the next play, Marshall dived over for his hat-trick. Hardaker missed the conversion but made no mistake minutes later when the KR defence opened up to allow Williams easy passage to the line.

Wigan were growing, as they racked up three quickfire tries to hit the half-century mark.

Farrell powered over for his second just past the hour-mark, Jarrod Sammut's break sent Gildart over and then - with KR wilting - Burgess charged down the touchline to cross. With Hardaker converting all three, Wigan led 52-6. Quinlan grabbed a late consolation but it didn't take the shine off a stunning victory for Lam's side.

Wigan: Hardaker; Marshall, Sarginson, Gildart, Burgess; Williams, Leuluai; Clubb, Powell, Navarrete, Isa, Farrell, Smithies. Subs: Hankinson, Sammut, Partington, Bullock.

Hull KR: Quinlan; Shaw, Linnett, Crooks, Hall; Drinkwater, McGuire; Garbutt, Parcell, Johnson, Tomkins, Livett, Hauraki. Subs: Atkin, Masoe, Mulhern, Murray.

Referee: Marcus Griffiths

Half-time: 24-6

Attendance: 11,042