Wigan did enough in this convincing victory over one of last year's most improved sides to suggest that 2010 could be the season they start to recapture some of their past glories. It was not a perfect display but the home side started strongly and, perhaps more tellingly, finished even better.
Cameron Phelps has proved to be one of Wigan's best value overseas imports of recent years. Without much of a reputation or a settled position when he arrived, he has been a revelation at full-back.
He was certainly the key factor in them taking an early 10-point lead last night. First he made the break that set up Amos Roberts after Paul Cooke had got himself offside from Michael Dobson's charged-down kick to concede good field position.
Then, still in the first seven minutes, he cut back against the grain of the defence to send Martin Gleeson over.
Phelps almost released George Carmont on the opposite flank, Shaun Briscoe coming to the rescue with a superb tackle, before Rovers managed to quieten him sufficiently to mount some attacks themselves.
Cooke almost got over the line and Clint Newton should have set up a Hull try when he made a devastating break but failed to find either of the players in support.
Wigan's defence, after what all their players describe as their hardest pre-season ever, held up well against everything the Robins could throw at them. They were finally breached five minutes before half-time, when the young forward substitute, Liam Watts, did magnificently to squeeze the ball out of the tackle for Ben Fisher to touch down. Wigan, with Phelps going off with a worrying-looking ankle injury at half-time, suddenly looked vulnerable, although Andy Coley should have settled their nerves when he crossed the try-line from Sam Tomkins's pass early in the second half. The video referee disallowed that for a knock-on, but then gave the thumbs-up when Rovers allowed Sam Tomkins's kick to bounce in front of their sticks, Sean O'Loughlin juggling and touching down.
Another clever kick from Sam Tomkins then presented Richards with a try to go with his final tally of four goals, as Wigan began to look comfortable once more. With Lee Mossop making a big impact off the bench more tries looked inevitable. It was Joel Tomkins who obliged 10 minutes from time, capitalising on some slick handling, before Roberts wrapped it up with his second.
Wigan: Phelps; Roberts, Gleeson, Carmont, Richards; S Tomkins, Leuluai; Fielden, Riddell, Coley, Hansen, J Tomkins, O'Loughlin. Substitutes used: Prescott, Paleaaesina, Deacon, Mossop.
Hull KR: Briscoe; Fox, Welham, Cockayne, Colbon; Webster, Dobson; Lovegrove, Murrell, Wheeldon, Newton, Cook, Cooke. Substitutes used: Vella, Watts, Fisher, Netherton.
Referee: I Smith (Oldham)Reuse content