John Kear's side seemed to be heading for a clear-cut defeat when they trailed 26-8 with a shade over 15 minutes to play, but they produced a sudden surge of spirit that came close to winning them the game.
Nathan Blacklock, battered all afternoon in the line of defensive duties, managed to struggle over the try line from Motu Tony's pass and Danny Brough landed a goal from the touchline to start the revival.
Then Brough dummied his way through to set up Graeme Horne and, when Gareth Raynor latched on to Chris Chester's kick for a third try in seven minutes, the cup finalists, short of five of their likely line-up for Cardiff, were on the point of drawing level. But Horne put a kick easier than several he had converted against the crossbar and Wigan edged further ahead through Danny Tickle's penalty.
Stephen Wild's tackle on Rayner prevented a possible winning try, but he was sent to the sin bin for hanging on too long, giving Hull a one-man advantage in the nerve-jangling closing minutes. They could not make it count, but they had at least shown that they were capable of getting their minds back on the job in hand.
That had not always been the case during the first hour. Wigan, with a top-six place to play for, led at half-time through tries from Wild, Terry Newton and Danny Orr, plus two goals from Tickle.
Even though two fringe candidates for Cardiff, Chester and Tom Saxton, combined for Hull's first try soon after the break, Wigan drew away again with tries from Kevin Brown and Dennis Moran.
"I feel we've been hard done by," said Kear, who believed that refereeing decisions had cost his side dear. "But there is spirit and determination in our squad."
The good news for Kear was that his side came through without any injuries worries. That was more than could be said for Wigan, who finished without Brian Carney, and Newton with hamstring and hip injuries respectively.
"That probably emphasises what a good win it was," said their coach, Ian Millward. "We've got three games left and we're still in the mix for the play-offs."
Hull: Briscoe; Blacklock, Tony, G Horne, Raynor; Lee, Brough; Dowes, Swain, Thackray, McMenemy, Kearney, Whiting. Substitutes: Saxton, Chester, Higgins, McNicholas.
Wigan: Dallas; Carney, Brown, Vaealiki, Aspinwall, Orr, Moran, Seuseu, Newton, Hargreaves, Wild, Tomkins, Tickle. Substitutes: Sculthorpe, Hansen, Allen, Coyle.
Referee: K Kirkpatrick (Warrington).
* Widnes were relegated from the Super League after they crashed to a humiliating 16-60 defeat at the hands of rivals Warrington. The Wolves ran in 11 tries at the Halton Stadium as they ended Widnes's four-year stay in the top flight. Ten different players scored for Warrington - with Henry Fa'afili and Toa Kohe getting two tries each and Chris Bridge eight goals - to revive their hopes of claiming third spot after three successive defeats. The fight drained away from Widnes in the second half as Warrington added 34 points to their score. Widnes may cling to the outside possibility that a club not meeting Super League's entry criteria may win the National League and offer them a reprieve. In the hope of this, they have already loaned two players to Doncaster, but the reality is they must now prepare for life at a lower level.
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