Hull 0 Wigan 16 match report: Inept Hull fail to rain on Wigan’s march to Challenge Cup victory

Iain Thornley and Sam Tomkins run in tries but dour final fails to live up to the ‘best ever’ clash between these two sides at Wembley back in 1985

Wembley

What was billed as celebration of rugby league at its most expansive turned out to be the most dour of finals, as Wigan won the Challenge Cup for the second time in three years. If the weather was partly to blame, then so was Hull’s ineptitude in the conditions. Have players from the banks of the Humber never seen rain before?

That was the way they made it look and that was the reason that they became the first side since St Helens – beaten 27-0, also by Wigan, in 1989 – to be “nilled” on the big occasion.

Teeming rain before kick-off at Wembley seemed to militate against the sort of spectacular rugby that lit up the old stadium when these two clubs met here in the “best ever” 1985 final. A day this time, surely, for ball security and minimising mistakes.

The teams were as expected, with the key men who have missed games recently, Sam Tomkins and Sean O’Loughlin, named for Wigan, and Hull resisting the temptation to throw Richard Horne straight back in after missing three-months.

A player at the other end of the experience spectrum, Jamie Shaul, was entrusted with the always potentially fraught full-back role, after just a handful of first-team games.

One of Wigan’s most experienced players, Pat Richards, put his kick-off out on the full to give Hull the first chance, but they could make nothing of it. By contrast, the Warriors put Shaul under sustained pressure on their first foray.

Intelligent use of the short passing and kicking game had Hull under the cosh for a full six minutes. They could have been without one man for ten minutes, as well, but the referee, Phil Bentham, decided that a penalty was punishment enough for Danny Tickle’s dangerous mid-air tackle on Tomkins.

In an indirect way, Wigan exacted a heavier price. Hull could not cope with Blake Green’s high kick and Ian Thornley, back in rugby league this season after a stint with Sale, picked up a difficult ball off the juicy turf, sold a dummy to the outside and straightened up to score. Wigan were playing economically, preserving their energy, whilst Hull were already having to go in search of the big play. Jacob Miller’s wild pass over Kirk Yeaman’s head and into touch was just the most extravagant example.

Thornley twice went close to a second try and, with Wigan dominating all the half-time statistics, it was a miracle that they were only six points ahead; it would have been seven if Matty Smith had not missed narrowly with a drop goal attempt.

Mind you, one thing Hull have shown their ability to do in this competition is defend their try-line. They were getting plenty of chance to show it again – and to do so without their captain, Gareth Ellis, who went off after 15 minutes with a rib injury.

Everything was against them, but they were still in there, punching above their weight, like their city’s Olympic gold-medalist, the boxer Luke Campbell, who was there to present the Cup.

The prospect of him presenting it to Hull receded just a little further when Richards added a penalty to his first half conversion, after a high tackle by Richard Whiting on Scott Taylor in front of the sticks.

Then came one of those moments that can turn a cup final on its head, or alternatively spin it around through 360 degrees and put it back where it was before.

The overworked Shaul picked up Smith’s low kick, wove his way out of his 20 and set sail for the other end. It was six points on the way, but Josh Charnley not only ran him down but knocked the ball out of his arms as well.

The balance of fitness and injury was swinging, with Ellis returning and Wigan’s Darrell Goulding carried off on a stretcher. The Warriors edged further ahead through Richards, though, after O’L oughlin was spear-tackled by Aaron Heremaia.

The big Hull contingent sensed a late comeback when they camped in Wigan territory for several minutes, only for them to continue to do what they had done all afternoon, this time with Daniel Holdsworth knocking-on from a drop out. It was an appropriate end to Humberside hopes, but Wigan had still not quite finished.

Two minutes from time, Green, who must have run Smith close as the man of the match, put in a neat, angled chip-kick. Sam Tomkins came from inches onside to pick up and dance through – a piece of skill to shine bright in any conditions.

Hull: Shaul; Crookes, Crooks, Yeaman, Briscoe; Holdsworth, Miller; O’Meley, Houghton, Watts, Ellis, Tickle, Westerman. Substitutes used: Heremaia, Lynch, Pitts, Whiting.

Wigan: S Tomkins; Charnley, Goulding, Thornley, Richards; Green, Smith; Mossop, McIlorum, Flower, Farrell, Hansen, O’Loughlin. Substitutes used: L Tomkins, Dudson, Tuson, Taylor.

Referee: P Bentham (Warrington)

Coach Wane has contract doubled

Shaun Wane knew within an hour of the final hooter just what Wigan's victory in a low-scoring Challenge Cup final was worth to him.

Already with a one-year extension to his coaching contract in his pocket, Wane had that instantly doubled by his delighted chairman, Ian Lenagan. But the Wigan-born coach insisted: "I'm really not worried. I just want to enjoy this. I woke up this morning and thought if I could win it, that would be a dream."

Both Wane and his captain, Sean O'Loughlin, tipped the man of the match, Matty Smith, to solve England's problem scrum-half spot for the World Cup. Smith, a former team-mate of Wayne Rooney in Everton's Academy, said: "I came to the game late and it's only in the last two years that I've got the hang of it."

The disappointed Hull coach, Peter Gentle, said he was happy at half-time. "I didn't think we could play as badly again, but the boys proved me wrong," he said.

Dave Hadfield

BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
10 best sun creams for kids

10 best sun creams for kids

Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin