Wigan ended a troubled campaign on a note of triumph as they brushed aside a potential Grand Final team in the first half with a style that made a nonsense of their struggles earlier in the year.
Threatened with relegation when Brian Noble arrived as coach, and not technically safe until a couple of weeks ago, Wigan said goodbye to 2006 looking like champions, with Michael Dobson a constant inspiration. Dobson showed how hard he is going to be to replace by scoring a try, setting up three others and kicking five goals. More than anyone, he has embodied Wigan's resurgence.
"We've asked a lot of ourselves in the second half of the season," said Noble. "I remember the dark days when people had written us off. Now I wish we were in the top six."
Wigan fans' wholehearted support for their team continued to the very end of a season more traumatic than they could have ever dreamed possible with another big crowd at the JJB, partly to say their farewells to players who will not be around next year.
One of them, Brett Dallas, had already made a couple of forays before Wigan took the lead after five minutes with Iafeta Paleaaesina going over from Danny Orr's pass. Hull, already assured of second place going into the play-offs, were slow to get into their stride, even when they were invited into the game by two penalties quickly conceded by another in the Wigan departure lounge, Scott Logan.
They failed to take advantage and were soon punished when yet another of that number, Dobson, sold a dummy and went through. With Dobson also landing both goals, Wigan were well on their way and a vintage Dallas run soon saw them threatening again.
Hull survived that but not Wigan's next attack when Stuart Fielden and Wayne Godwin combined to send the find of the season, Chris Ashton, racing in. The visitors came belatedly into the match and two of their young prospects linked up, with Danny Washbrook supplying the scoring pass for Matty Dale.
Within a couple of minutes, however, they were caught out again, Dobson kicking through neatly for Ashton to claim his second.
Dobson supplied the pass for the first try of the second half, Harrison Hansen crashing over, before frustration got to the Hull captain Richard Swain, who was sin-binned for a late tackle on Orr, leaving Dobson with an easy penalty.
The sin-binning of David Vaealiki, followed by Motu Tony's try, were minor inconveniences for Wigan, as was a Shaun Briscoe try, before Gareth Hock rounded off a night of celebration.
The Hull coach, Peter Sharp, admitted his side's minds appeared to be on the meeting with St Helens in a fortnight. "They had their eye on something and it wasn't Wigan," he said.
Wigan: Ashton, Calderwood, McAvoy, Vaealiki, Dallas, Orr, Dobson, Paleaaesina, Higham, Fielden, Hock, Fletcher, O'Loughlin. Substitutes used: Logan, Godwin, Hansen, Tickle.
Hull: Tony, Briscoe, Yeaman, Whiting, Raynor, Cooke, R Horne, Dowes, Swain, Carvell, Radford, G Horne, Washbrook Substitutes used: Lee, Dale, King, Wheeldon.
Referee: B Thaler (Castleford).Reuse content