DESPITE a battling display, the injury-hit Hull Kingston Rovers, which features Culburra’s Adam Quinlan, were knocked out of the Challenge Cup by Wigan.
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Rovers’ defence was given an early examination by the full-strength Wigan side, but great communication between Junior Vaivai and 18-year-old debutant Elliot Wallis saw them pressure Tom Davies into fumbling Dan Sarginson’s pass over the sideline.
The Robins cleared their lines well, but a Sam Tomkins 40/20 soon had the visitors back on the attack and this time they crossed after Josh Woods caught Josh Johnson over-chasing, skipped back inside him and strolled over.
Sam Tomkins converted and, but took some outstanding try-line defence from the Red and Whites, Wigan would have gone back-to-back.
The cherry and whites forced four consecutive sets, but Maurice Blair and Liam Salter produced a great piece of defence to chop Sam Tomkins down as he set sail for the line before smothering the Wigan full-back on the last tackle.
Buoyed by that excellent period of defence, the Robins looked to go on the offensive after John Bateman was penalised for a high tackle.
Tommy Lee kept the ball alive on the last tackle, darting down the short side before turning the ball back inside for Adam Quinlan to break back through the middle of the ruck.
Chris Atkin was in support to take his pass and twist out of a tackle to get the ball down.
Ryan Shaw couldn’t converted, but a Danny Tickle error on the second tackle after the restart handed the initiative straight back to the visitors, and Joel Tomkins’ pass allowed Liam Marshall to dive in at the corner.
Things went from bad to worse for the Robins soon after when Quinlan was sin-binned for delaying a 20-metre tap, but in his absence, the Red and Whites dug deep to keep the Warriors at bay.
More great work between Salter and Blair contained Oliver Gildart as the centre angled his run for the corner, then a few minutes later, the Warriors found a big overlap down their left.
Liam Farrell and Gildart put Marshall into space, but once again Rovers scrambled brilliantly, covering the Wigan winger and forcing the ball to be fed back inside via Gildart to Farrell but as he touched down, referee Chris Kendall ruled a forward pass.
With half-time approaching, back-to-back penalties carried the visitors into good field position, and quick hands looked to have put Gildart in at the corner, but more outstanding defence from Blair wrapped the centre up and forced him over the sideline.
Quinlan returned from the sin-bin just in time for the final stages of the half, but the first 40 minutes ended on a flash-point when a tackle by Tickle on John Bateman saw the Wigan man lash out at Tickle.
The Rovers man retaliated with a punch, and when tempers had calmed down, referee Kendall showed Bateman a yellow card and Tickle a straight red.
That left the Red and Whites with a mountain to climb after the break but they forced a repeat set in the opening minutes and Quinlan skipped into a gap only to be pulled up for obstruction.
The Robins got the score they were searching for soon after though, when James Greenwood’s offload was beautifully snapped up of his toes by Junior Vaivai, and he barged over to get the ball down.
Shaw was again off-target with the conversion, but he kicked a penalty to level the scores six minutes later, setting up a decisive final quarter.
Wigan visibly increased the tempo of their play after that though, and were quickly rewarded when Sam Tomkins escaped the clutches of Vaivai and raced over out wide.
The Warriors full-back converted the try himself before adding a penalty goal to put the visitors into a two-score lead.
Rovers looked to respond, but debutant Wallis saw what would have been a memorable first try disallowed for another obstruction call, and after the excellent Rob Mulhern was forced off with a knee injury, late tries to Tony Clubb and Tom Davies saw Wigan home.
“It’s another one of those where you love the effort, but regret some of the execution,” Rovers coach Tim Sheens said.
“We had a couple of chances and missed a couple of early goals that put us under the pump, but playing almost 80 per cent of the game with 12-men didn’t help, especially against a strong Wigan outfit.
“Losing Danny on half-time forced us to really readjust, but I thought we really hung in there.
“It was only really in the final 10 or 15 minutes when they got away from us, which was disappointing, but I don’t think anyone had anything left by that point.
“We lost Mose [Masoe] to an ankle, James Greenwood with a concussion, and Robbie Mulhern looks like being an ACL so if that’s the case, it’ll be the end of his season.
“He’s been our best forward this year, and was being considered for the England Knights tour at the end of the year.”
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