Zak Hardaker drop goal sees Wigan win at Hull – talking points & player ratings

Drew Darbyshire

A late drop goal from Zak Hardaker snatched a 15-14 win for Wigan against Hull FC at the KCOM Stadium. 

The Warriors are now just two points behind the Airlie Birds who sit third in the Super League table.

Hull coach Lee Radford made two changes to his side that were knocked out of the Challenge Cup by Warrington last week. Chris Green and Masi Matongo replaced Mickey Paea and Josh Bowden.

Adrian Lam made three changes to his Wigan outfit that beat Wakefield last time out. Sean O’Loughlin, Joe Burgess and Tommy Leuluai returned for the Warriors.

Chris Hankinson, Jake Shorrocks and Ethan Havard dropped out for Wigan.

Marc Sneyd kicked two penalty goals in the opening quarter to give Hull the lead before Liam Marshall scored the game’s first try in the 25th minute, which was awarded as eight-point try due to being tackled in the air by Bureta Faraimo.

Hardaker added a penalty goal for Wigan on the half hour mark while Sneyd kicked his third of the night. Wigan were 10-6 to the good at half-time.

Marshall went over for his second shortly after the interval, while Scott Taylor brought Hull back into the game on the hour.

Sneyd added his fourth penalty goal in the 71st minute to level the score and make it a nervy finish.

And with four minutes remaining, Hardaker completed an impressive individual performance with a one-pointer to secure a 15-14 victory for his Wigan side.

Three talking points

Aggression good for the game

There were a number of times where the game boiled over but that can only be a good thing for the game. Aggression makes rugby league more entertaining to watch.

Partington was well-fuelled up in the first half and had words with Chris Green and Joe Westerman, while Sneyd had a couple of heated exchanges with Willie Isa.

Whether you would like to see the biff brought back or not – you can’t deny that melees get the crowd off their seat and the atmosphere ramps up. The aggression keeps everyone on their toes!

Youngsters shine for Wigan again

Wigan have three absolute diamonds in Ollie Partington, Morgan Smithies and Liam Byrne.

Front-rower Partington has effort in abundance. He gets stuck into every single tackle and likes to mix it up with experienced opposition. The 20-year-old will be at Wigan for years to come if he carries on the way he’s going.

Loose forward Smithies, 18, only made his first-team debut earlier this year but it looks like he has been playing at the highest level for some time. He is going to be a world class player and an international.

Front-rower Byrne, 19, hasn’t featured as many times as Partington or Smithies but he is a unit for his age. He already has three international caps for Ireland and the hard-hitter is only going to get better.

Connor makes the difference

It’s hard to describe just how much of an influence Jake Connor has on the Hull team. Hull’s Mr Versatile needs to be starting and playing the full 80 minutes.

The England international started on the bench. The Black and Whites were second best in the first half but Connor made an immediate impact when he entered the fray.

It’s a healthy selection headache for Radford because Connor is the ultimate utility man, but he needs play the full game wherever he is positioned.

Line-ups and player ratings

Hull: Shaul (7); Naulago (6), Tuimavave (7), Griffin (7), Faraimo (7); Kelly (8), Sneyd (7); Taylor (8), Houghton (8), Green (7), Lane (7), Minichiello (8), Westerman (7). Subs: Connor (8), Ellis (8), Fash (7), Matongo (7).

Tries: Taylor Goals: Sneyd 5/5

Wigan: Hardaker (8); Marshall (7), Sarginson (6), Gildart (7), Burgess (7); Williams (7), Leuluai (8); Navarrete (7), Powell (8), Partington (8), Isa (8), Farrell (7), Smithies (8). Subs: Byrne (8), Clubb (8), O’Loughlin (5), Sammut (N/A).

Tries: Marshall 2 Goals: Hardaker 3/4 Drop Goals: Hardaker 1

Drew’s views

What a game. The competitiveness and commitment on show from both sides was magnificent. It was one of the best games we have seen in Super League this year.

I’m a big fan of the biff, so it was good to see a couple of players from both sides getting fired up in the game and it was great to see the players just shake hands afterwards – enemies on the field, mates off it.

There wasn’t much separating the sides and it was a great advertisement for Super League.

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