WHEN Wigan Warriors hurt Hull KR, they truly do hurt them badly.
It was April Fool’s Day two years ago that the Cherry and Whites inflicted the club’s biggest Super League defeat with an embarrassing 84-6 loss at Craven Park that left no one at Rovers chuckling.
Wigan may have slipped up there earlier this year when they squandered a 20-6 lead to lose 22-20 but they ensured that memory was firmly eradicated last night.
When George Williams just stopped – the Warriors stand-off didn’t even dummy – before easing through a non-existent defence to make it 34-0 after just 21 minutes, Rovers fans could have been forgiven for thinking that 2013 debacle would look respectable compared to the potential final scoreline here.
Thankfully for Chris Chester’s woeful side – and it was one of the few small mercies – the rampant home side, with England winger Joe Burgess getting his second successive hat-trick, did not carry on at the same relentless pace of scoring points.
It was still the biggest defeat under his command, a third on the trot and one that drops dire Rovers down to tenth spot.
Bottom-placed Wakefield Trinity Wildcats arrive on Thursday night having lost their last 10 league games; their hopes of ending that barren run will be increased after seeing this.
Granted, Hull KR were missing a raft of players, most notably captain Terry Campese who missed his first game since joining, due to a hamstring injury.
Super League’s leading points scorer Josh Mantellato was also out due to attending his brother’s wedding in Australia while Dane Tilse, the Canberra Raiders prop who only debuted in last week’s loss at Catalans, was absent with a rib problem.
There was no return for ex-England hooker Shaun Lunt either so, to then see second-row Kevin Larroyer pull up during the warm-up, Chester must have been fearing the worst. Probably nothing as bad as this, though.
The ease with which prop Dom Crosby eased over for the night’s first try after three minutes pointed at Rovers’ defensive glaring deficiencies.
Wigan scored in the next set, too, as Dan Sarginson capitalised on a slip in the Rovers defence to send Burgess haring down the touchline for the first of the England winger’s hat-trick.
Rovers full-back Kieran Dixon kicked the restart out on the full to invite them in again via Liam Farrell, Albert Kelly this time falling short with his tackle, before Farrell raced clear from the next kick-off to provide Burgess’s second.
Matty Smith improved all four meaning, incredibly, it was 24-0 after just 11 minutes. Game over.
Ironic cheers erupted when Rovers finally got the ball back three minutes later. But they soon dissipated when Dixon quickly lost it again in a three-man tackle.
From there, Sarginson escaped too easily and Joel Tomkins helped himself to a try for Smith to make it 28-0.
Burgess thought he had completed his treble after only 17 minutes but that was brought back for a forward pass.
Nevertheless, Wigan’s Tony Clubb hunted down Ben Cockayne to force a drop-out as if it was 28-28 in the final minute.
Then came Williams’s walk-in before 20 minutes of respite for the vanquished visitors.
Adam Walker infuriated Wigan fans and players with a swinging arm on the seated Smith but no penalty was awarded as, in fairness, it did not land high.
That incident just before the break fired up Rovers a little and they protected their line a little longer until Sarginson crossed early in the second period.
John Bateman then slipped more weak tackling for Dom Manfredi to score before Rovers suffered more woe, on-loan Wigan prop Greg Burke being helped off injured.
A shuddering hit from Ryan Sutton saw Kelly lose the ball and Taulima Tautai thunder over before Williams produced a dazzling run for his second.
There was delirium from Rovers fans when Graeme Horne forced a drop-out in the 67th minute but, after James Donaldson evaded some tackles, his pass sailed forward to James Green.
Instead, Sydney Roosters-bound Burgess did get that treble late on and Rovers – who saw youngster Connor Robinson make his league debut – were kept pointless for the first time since last August’s derby defeat at Hull FC.
Wigan: Hampshire, Manfredi, J. Tomkins, Sarginson, Burgess, Williams, Smith, Crosby, McIlorum, Flower, L. Farrell, Bateman, Patrick. Substitutes: Powell, Clubb, Tautai, Sutton.
Hull K R: Dixon, Cockayne, Welham, Horne, Sio, Blair, Kelly, Walker, Boudebza, Burke, Larroyer, McCarthy, Donaldson. Substitutes: Green, Ollett, Guzdek, Esslemont.
Referee: P Bentham (RFL).