Rugby League: Hull feel heat from champions

Wigan 58 Hull 6
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The Independent Online
WIGAN, STILL smarting from their Challenge Cup defeat at Leeds, served notice that they will not give up their Super League title easily in the opening match of their campaign.

Although they played some brilliant rugby, spear-headed by a hat-trick of tries from Lee Gilmour, they had precious little to beat. Hull's tackling and general application was so poor that their supporters' calls for their coach, Peter Walsh, to be sacked sounded more like predictions than requests.

Walsh said the Hull supporters' reaction made him "more determined than ever to turn it around. They call for me to be sacked every other week. It's not as though I value their opinion. I fear for the sanity of some of them."

Twice in the first five minutes Wigan opened up Hull like a can of the town's famous baked beans, with Andy Farrell the cutting edge on both occasions. First he threw an inside pass to release Gary Connolly, then he began the move that ended with Mark Reber setting up Mick Cassidy.

In the context of this match, the 15 minutes for which Hull then kept their line intact amounted to a small triumph. But then Greg Florimo slipped a lovely pass to send Gilmour striding away and Wigan were back in business. Andy Johnson celebrated his first match back after a career-threatening leg injury with a try and his name-sake, Paul, then took an over-head pass from Danny Moore for Wigan's fifth try.

The best of the half came when Kris Radlinski retrieved a kick that had been charged down by Craig Murdock to initiate a 90-yard move that climaxed with Gilmour claiming his second.

The only brief respite for a Hull side with the chants of their disillusioned travelling fans ringing in their ears came when Steve Prescott was awarded a penalty try after taking Murdock's bomb and being dispossessed over the line in a two-man tackle.

A bigger surprise than that reply was that Jason Robinson had not yet scored for Wigan. He compensated by setting up two tries early in the second half, taking Florimo's bomb to supply Neil Cowie and then turning the ball inside for Radlinksi to go over.

A bewildering attack, culminating in Farrell's long pass, then gave Robinson one of his own. The last thing Hull needed was to lose a man to the sin- bin, but while Graeme Hallas was off, Radlinksi grabbed his second, followed by Gilmour's third. Farrell's seventh goal rounded off his influential all-round display.

Wigan: Radlinski; Robinson, Moore, Connolly, P Johnson; Florimo, Reber; O'Connor, Cassidy, Goldspink, Gilmour, A Johnson, Farrell. Substitutes used: Cowie, Mestrov, Davies, Mark Smith.

Hull: Prescott; Baildon, Calland, Campbell, Seru; Lester, Murdock; Harrison, Hall, Ireland, Craven, Holgate, Purcell. Substitutes used: Hallas, Michael Smith, Leatham, Roberts.

Referee: S Cummings (Widnes).