There could be only one winner as the top of the table Wigan Warriors were first up in a coronavirus truncated round eleven as they took on the side propping up the rest of the table, Hull Kingston Rovers.
Coach Adrian Lam named a side which was almost unrecognisable from the one which narrowly beat the Castleford Tigers last time out. Morgan Smithies had picked up a five game suspension for a couple of misdemeanours but Wigan made six other changes to their winning side.
The Warriors were massive favourites for the win with the Robins receiving a twenty point start on the handicap coupon. Surely there was no chance that Wigan would slip up and open the door to the chasing pack.
Sam Powell was the first over the whitewash after relentless Wigan pressure. The hooker went two metres from first receiver, taking a Harry Smith pass to score under the posts. Zak Hardaker added the easiest of conversions for a 6-0 lead after ten minutes.
KR struck back on sixteen, against the run of play when Elliott Michella completed a Jez Litten break down the middle after the hooker pulled in the last defender and released his loose forward.Mikey Lewis added the conversion.
Four minutes later and the Robins got their second, Greg Minikin fouding space on the overlap to complete a right to laft passing move and go over in the corner, rounding a little to improve the angle for Lewis. The conversion was still wide and Lewis couldn’t find the posts with his kick.
The next try took just two minutes as Minchella ripped through the Wigan defence after taking a terrific offload from Jordan Abdull. Lewis kicked the conversion for a 16-6 lead, Wigan didn’t know what had hit them.
Harry Smith struck back for the warriors on twenty-six, seeming to benefit from an obstruction in back play. Referee Grant opted to award the try rather than consult the video referee and Hardaker added insult to injury kicking the goal.
Rovers needed to put that behind disappointment/ perceived injustice them and knuckle back down.
Seconds before the half time hooter KR were in for their fourth as Minikin got his second of the game with a couple of great offloads keeping the ball alove and sending the winger over in the corner. Will Dagger added the conversion from the touchline and Rovers took an incredible 22-12 lead into the sheds.
Two minutes after the restart and KR were in again, Dean Hadley taking a Jordan Abdull offload to walk over the line. Dagger added the conversion for 28-12, the impossible was becoming a reality.
Greg Minikin crossed for his hat-trick on forty-five as KR were rampant. A non-existent Wigan defence were wrongfooted by a Linnett dummy as the centre found his wingman to go over. Dagger was unable to score from wide.
KR were giving as much effort in defence as they were showing in attack and thwarting all Wigan efforts.
With just under ten minutes remaining Shaun Kenny-Dowall was sin-binned for putting in a tackle from an offside position. On the next play after the penalty Jackson Hastings pushed his way through the tiring KR defence and when Hardaker added the conversion it was 32-18. Wigan needed three converted tries in eight minutes.
When Wigan fouled in the tackle on seventy-seven KR took the chance to wind down the clock with Jordan Abdull taking the kicking duties and adding a penalty goal.
Liam Farrell went close on seventy-seven but he was held up over the line, unable to ground. KR running out as 34-18 winners.
Take nothing away from Hull KR, they were absolutely worthy of their win against a Wigan side who seemed to have nothing to offer beyond their opening ten minute onslaught. Once the Robins gained some momentum they found that they could break the Wigan line at will and they did so with a regularity which will alarm Adriam Lam, but delight Tony Smith.
KR: Dagger (2G), Ryan, Kenny-Dowall (SB on 70), Linnett, Minikin (3T), Abdull (G), Lewis (2G), Hauraki, Litten, Lawler, Storton, Hadley (T), Minchella (T). Subs: Keyes, Murray, Peteru, Livett.
Warriors: French, Bibby, Gildart, Hardaker (3T), Manfredi, Smith (T), Hastings (T), Flower, Powell (T), Byrne, Farrell, Isa, Partington. Subs: Bourouh, Clark, Greenwood, Shorrocks J.
Referee: Tom Grant.
Half Time: 22-12.
Ground: Emerald Headingley Stadium, Leeds.