Tomkins pulls strings as Wigan bounce back in style

Wigan 42 Hull KR 18
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The Independent Online

Table-topping Wigan are back on course for the Old Trafford Grand Final after what was ultimately a most convincing victory over seventh-placed Rovers. Two tries from Darrell Goulding and a fine kicking display from Pat Richards contributed heavily to the scoreline, but it was Sam Tomkins who again caught the eye, more this time as a maker rather than a taker of try-scoring chances.

His footwork and acceleration were often too much for a Rovers side which competed well enough for much of the match, but had perhaps used up a little too much of their available fuel in beating Hull last week.

Wigan chose to cover for the absence of the injured Paul Deacon by moving Sean O'Loughlin to stand-off, rather than bringing in the extra strike power of Amos Roberts. Not that there was much wrong with the way they struck after four minutes, O'Loughlin's looping pass sending Richards in at the corner.

The trouble was that Rovers, roared on by their large travelling support, struck back immediately. Michael Vella stole the ball from Stuart Fielden and, from that extra possession, Ben Cockayne released Peter Fox for the equalising converted try.

Worse than that for Wigan, they were quickly opened up again by kicks from Scott Murrell and Ben Fisher for Cockayne to score.

Wigan made it level again when Liam Farrell demonstrated his try-poacher's instinct by scoring from Mark Riddell's short pass, but the Robins edged ahead through Michael Dobson's third goal when Riddell was penalised for raising his knee.

A see-sawing first half tilted the Warriors' way again when Goulding was denied a try at the cost of a ball-stripping penalty, only for Sam Tomkins to explore the same route again and this time put Goulding over.

Tomkins needed treatment for an obviously painful dislocated finger, but that did not stop him setting up Goulding again before half-time, this time with a cross-field run that eventually attracted the defenders to leave the wingman free. Richards, whose goal misses could be said to have cost Wigan the match against Leeds last week, put over his fourth conversion, three of them from the touchline.

No game could sustain this sort of breathless tempo indefinitely and the opening minutes of the second half were the quietest of the match, although Richards did put down a pass when Wigan threatened to go round the outside of Rovers' defence again.

The Warriors then sewed up the game with two tries in four minutes, the first coming when Josh Hodgson was penalised for a grapple tackle, O'Loughlin was stopped on the try-line and Thomas Leuluai burrowed his way over. Tomkins then carved out the position from which Martin Gleeson romped over, with Richards still faultless with his touchline kicks.

Rovers still showed a stubborn determination, with Fox getting his second from Dobson's kick, but Joel Tomkins kept Wigan well clear, with Richards making it seven goals from seven attempts.

Wigan now go into the mix with St Helens, Leeds and the winners of today's match between Warrington and Huddersfield for the semis which will decide the finalists.

Wigan S Tomkins; Goulding, Gleeson, Carmont, Richards; O'Loughlin, Leuluai; Fielden, Riddell, Coley, J Tomkins, Hansen, Farrell. Substitutes used Paleaaesina, Prescott, Tuson, McIlorum.

Hull KR Briscoe; Fox, Cockayne, Welham, Colbon; Murrell, Dobson; Vella, Fisher, Clinton, Newton, Galea, Netherton. Substitutes used Lovegrove, Wheeldon, Cook, Hodgson.

Referee R.Silverwood (Mirfield).