Legendary Super League coach Tony Smith took charge for the first time as his Hull KR side took on the Wigan Warriors in a curcial game down the wrong end of the Super League table. It was ninth against eleventh as both sides looked to get away from the perilous bottom spot.
This was the first meeting between the two sides this season but Hull KR recorded a loss in the Challenge Cup last weekend, whereas Wigan had a week off and came into the game the fresher of the two sides.
KR skipper Joel Tomkins was back after missing last weekend through suspension, but Danny McGuire was unavailable after picking up an injury during training yesterday. Liam Farrell was back in the Cherry and White after an injury lay off.
Confusion in the KR defence allowed Williams to score the opening try of the game as he took an inside pass and found a gap in the line to go over. With thirteen minutes on the clock Zak Hardaker added the extras for a 6-0 lead.
A slow motion ninety-metre break by Jimmy Keinhorst saw him score, going almost the length of the field in a zig-zag move, and somehow managing to outpace the chasing Wigan defenders. Despite it looking like he’d get stopped on a couple of occasions, he managed to make it to the line to ground. Ryan Shaw added the conversion to level the scores on twenty-one minutes.
George Lawler came close to grounding a Josh Drinkwater grubber on thirty-five to edge the home side ahead but didn’t manage to ground.
Dan Sarginson caught Hull short on numbers when he went in for Wigan’s second try off a Thomas Leuluai pass, a little against the run of play. Williams attempted the goal but was wide of the mark.
Chris Atkin put a line clearing kick staight into touch and with the KR devence at sixes and sevens, a fast passing move ended up in the hands of Joe Burgess to cross for the third Warriors try. Williams missed again on the hooter, Wigan going in with a 14-6 lead is what was obviously a basement battle.
Within a couple of minutes of the restart Will Dagger sliced through the Wigan defence after a neat interchange with Joel Tomkins. Shaw added the conversion to get his side back within two of the Warriors.
Ryan Lannon grabbed the the lead for the Robins after he was lifted in goal by the Wigan defenders but stretched out an arm to get the ball on the ground. Shaw added the conversion on fifity-five for an 18-14 lead, the home side seemed to have the belief after twelve unanswered points after fourteen minutes in the second half.
A ten minute delay ended up with Kane Linnett was stretchered off after picking up an injury as he tried to tackle Sarginson on fifty-eight.
Wigan struck back on sixty-six when Liam Marshall found some space on the overlap to cross wide off a Leuluai pass. Williams was unable to add the extras, the two sides locked up at 18-18.
KR had an Atkins try ruled out for a knock-on with ten minutes remaining as the Robins pushed for the win. A forward pass cost Wigan the winning try when Marshall looked to have sewn up the win with four minutes remaining.
A Sam Powell forty metre drop goal edged Wigan into a 19-18 lead with two minutes left on the clock to take the win and break KR hearts.
Drinkwater missed an attempted drop goal on the final hooter to sum up a miserable afternoon for the home side.
Tony Smith has now seen the work that is required for his new charges to avoid the drop as they lost out by a point to fellow strugglers Wigan who will have been delighted to escape with the points. Wigan are up into eighth, but still looking over their shoulders, while Hull KR are now level with London at the bottom of the table after they won a Golden Point victory over the league leaders, St Helens.
KR: Hall, Crooks, Keinhorst (T), Linnett, Shaw (2G), Drinkwater, Dagger (T), Harrison, Addy, Masoe, Tomkins, Hauraki, Lawler. Subs: Atkin, Maria, Lannon (T), Mulhern.
Warriors: Hardaker (G), Marshall (T), Sarginson (T), Gildart, Burgess (T), Williams (T), Leuluai, Flower, Powell (DG), Clubb, Isa, Farrell, O’Loughlin. Subs: Shorrocks, Smithies, Bullock, Tautai.
Referee: Scott Mikalauskas.