Tomkins overshadows Hock as Wigan cut down Giants

Wigan Warriors 46 Huddersfield Giants 12
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The Independent Online

Sam Tomkins upstaged Gareth Hock's comeback from two years in the wilderness as Wigan climbed above Huddersfield and into secondplace in Super League.

Hock, a Test second-rower back from a drugs suspension, played over half an hour in two spells. He looked fit and eager, if a little off with his timing on occasion. The real star of the show was Tomkins, who was just emerging as a senior player when Hock last pulled on a Wigan shirt. He scored their first two tries, had a hand in another couple and completed his hat-trick near the end. He generally gave Huddersfield little peace as the champions showed their determination to retain their title.

The game might not have reached the heights of Warrington against St Helens the previous night, but Wigan served notice that they have the squad to win the Grand Final again, especially with Hock back in harness.

"He obviously knows he's got a long way to go, but he represented himself really well," said Wigan's coach, Michael Maguire, of Hock. "He showed some very good signs."

Maguire used the word "incredible" – which is not usually part of his vocabulary – to describe Tomkins' performance, but Huddersfield might reasonably have been expected to cope with it a little better.

"We were well beaten in all facets. We can't offer any excuses," said their coach, Nathan Brown. "We've been getting away with a few things and that game has been coming for a while."

As expected, Hock was eased back into action from the bench, the number 34 on his back a reminder of how many good young players have come to the fore since he last appeared. He got a hero's welcome when he came on, after 23 minutes, looking bigger around the chest and shoulders. He made his mark with a big first tackle and a strong first carry.

The game was well on the way to being won, largely thanks to Tomkins' typically brilliant contribution. The Huddersfield players had arrived an hour before kick-off in a fleet of taxis, after their team coach had broken down at Birch Services. There was certainly an air of unpreparedness about them when George Carmont and Pat Richards opened them up in the third minute for Tomkins to score with excessive ease.

Not for the first time since his arrival, however, Brett Finch appeared to be on a different wavelength from his Wigan team-mates. It was his loose pass that allowed two ex-Wigan players to combine for the equaliser, when Kevin Brown's cut-out pass released David Hodgson.

Scott Grix kicked the conversion from the touchline but he then undid the good work by knocking-on from the kick-off, a mistake that was punished by an electrifying second try from Tomkins.

Thomas Leuluai got over from dummy-half after another mistake, this time from Joe Wardle, and Richards' try came from Tomkins' 40-metre break.

Paul Deacon's looping pass sent Josh Charnley away for the first try of the second half. Lee Mossop and Danny Kirmond traded tries before Tomkins, fittingly, had the final word with a clever little kick and chase. Hock will no doubt enjoy playing alongside such a rare talent.

Wigan S Tomkins; Charnley, J Tomkins, Carmont, Richards; Finch, Deacon; Lima, Leuluai, Mossop, Hansen, Hoffman, O'Loughlin. Substitutes used Prescott, Hock, McIlorum, Coley.

Huddersfield Grix; McGillvary, Wardle, Cudjoe, Hodgson; Brown, Robinson; Crabtree, Faiumu, Mason, Gilmour, Ferguson, Fa'alogo. Substitutes used Lunt, Griffin, Kirmond, Patrick.

Referee P Bentham (Warrington).