Wigan 19 – 18 Hull

Report

Harry Smith’s second drop goal of the season proved the difference between the teams as Wigan made it six wins from seven in the Betfred Super League by edging out Hull FC at the DW Stadium

Last Updated: 31/03/22 10:22pm

Harry Smith celebrates kicking the game-winning drop goal for Wigan

Harry Smith celebrates kicking the game-winning drop goal for Wigan

Harry Smith was again the drop-goal hero for Wigan Warriors as he sent them top of the Betfred Super League with the winning score in a 19-18 victory at home to Hull FC.

The Warriors snatched an early lead through man-of-the-moment Jai Field, but the Black and Whites had turned it around by half-time to lead 12-6 thanks to converted tries from Adam Swift and Danny Houghton.

It was nip and tuck throughout the second half as Ethan Havard’s score pulled Wigan level, with Chris Satae putting Hull back in front and then full-back Field grabbing his second of the night to set up a grandstand finish.

Both Smith and the returning Luke Gale missed drop goal attempts in the closing stages, but the former made no mistake at the second time of asking with another crucial one-pointer two minutes from time, just as he had done against Toulouse Olympique earlier in the season.

Story of the game

The home side began impressively and took the lead after three minutes when Field chimed into the line and dummied his way over for the game’s first try.

Hardaker could not add the conversion but succeeded with a penalty after 15 minutes after Hull were pulled up for a ball steal in front of the posts.

The Warriors’ bright opening probably warranted a bigger lead, but Hull’s defence held firm and they gradually worked their way into the contest.

Joe Lovodua passed it brilliantly to Danny Houghton to setup an easy try to put Hull FC in front of Wigan just before the break

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Joe Lovodua passed it brilliantly to Danny Houghton to setup an easy try to put Hull FC in front of Wigan just before the break

Joe Lovodua passed it brilliantly to Danny Houghton to setup an easy try to put Hull FC in front of Wigan just before the break

Wigan Warriors welcomed Bevan French back into the matchday 17 for the first time in 12 months, while Harry Smith was named in the starting line-up in place of suspended captain Tommy Leuluai.

Hull FC had captain Luke Gale back in action for the first time since Round 2 after completing his five-game suspension, with Darnell McIntosh also coming back into the team on the wing.

Prop Ligi Sao was left with a clear run to the line after charging down a kick on halfway, but was quickly hunted down and Gale was close to touching down a kick from winger Darnell McIntosh as the Black and Whites showed their danger.

Wigan failed to heed the warning signs and conceded two tries in the last seven minutes of the half as their opponents made the most of the momentum shift.

Quick hands from Jake Connor and Josh Griffin got winger Swift over at the corner and Lovodua supported a break by centre Mitieli Vulikijapani, who was deputising for the injured Carlos Tuimavave, to get hooker Houghton over.

Gale added both conversions to make it a six-point lead at the break, but Wigan levelled seven minutes into the second half as interchange forward Havard demonstrated neat footwork to step through for a try, which Hardaker converted.

Harry Smith's drop goal won it for Wigan with just two minutes left on the clock

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Harry Smith’s drop goal won it for Wigan with just two minutes left on the clock

Harry Smith’s drop goal won it for Wigan with just two minutes left on the clock

Wigan Warriors: Tries – Jai Field (2), Ethan Havard; Goals – Zak Hardaker (3); Drop goal – Harry Smith.

Hull FC: Tries – Adam Swift, Danny Houghton, Chris Satae; Goals – Luke Gale (3).

That followed back-to-back penalties as the visitors began to lose their discipline, but they regrouped in time to regain the lead just short of the hour.

Lovodua – normally a hooker but playing in the halves in Josh Reynolds’ absence – was again the architect with a lovely half-break and neat offload to get second rower Satae charging over for a try with his first touch since starting his second spell.

Gale’s third goal re-established his side’s six-point lead, but it was all square five minutes later when Warriors full-back Field demonstrated his athleticism and pace to scorch in from halfway for his second try, which Hardaker goaled.

That set the scene for a frantic finish, with Smith missing with his first drop-goal attempt before finally hitting the target to emulate his feat against Toulouse earlier this month.

What’s next?

Both teams are back in Betfred Challenge Cup action next week, with Hull FC heading to Huddersfield Giants on Saturday, April 9 (5pm kick-off).

Wigan are in quarter-final action the following day when they travel to Wakefield Trinity (2.30pm).

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