Hull FC 4 Wigan Warriors 36: Shambolic Hull dumped out of Challenge Cup

IT is difficult to know where to begin with this humiliating Hull FC display.

Disconsolate Hull FC players after crashing out of the Challenge Cup. (PIC: JONATHAN GAWTHORPE)

Their hopes of securing a Challenge Cup semi-final spot were ended after being utterly out-played by Wigan Warriors who will now meet Leeds Rhinos for a place at Wembley.

Andy Last’s side simply never got going at Salford’s AJ Bell Stadium and, by the end, were left facing yet more questions about their ability to truly deliver when it matters most.

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There is, of course, mitigation, given this was their third game in ten days.

Hull FC's Connor Wynne takes on Wigan (PIC: JONATHAN GAWTHORPE)

But much of the damage here was self-inflicted and from the sort of rudimentary errors that cannot be put down to any sort of fatigue.

They were 26-0 down by half-time following a catalogue of mistakes. The worry was their opponents - with speedster Bevan French enjoying a field day - were not even significantly ruthless.

You can only imagine what the damage would have resembled if they had.

That said, Wigan had still dominated, Joe Burgess racing in untouched after the first half hooter had sounded having mopping up the latest misplaced pass, this time an ill-conceived offload from Mahe Fonua.

Hull FC's Ligi Sao (PIC: JONATHAN GAWTHORPE)

Some would argue the tie was destined to be over as early as the tenth minute when Adrian Lam’s side were already 12-0 ahead.

Sean O’Loughlin, the veteran England captain playing his first game since February, did not take long to get back in to the swing of things.

He thrust into the Hull defensive line before completing a runaround with Sam Powell, the Wigan hooker who dived over in his 200th club appearance.

Next, loose forward O’Loughlin was held up over the goalline after muscling his way forward once more.

From the resulting play-the-ball, Jackson Hastings dabbed in a grubber that Carlos Tuimavave and Fonua both tried and failed to shepherd dead, Liam Farrell hardly able to believe his luck as he got an outstretched hand to touch down.

Some might fear O’Loughlin - who turns 38 in November - could struggle in the middle under the sport's new rules that have been brought in since his last appearance.

However, he showed his class with a number of subtle touches, living up to Last’s pre-match billing that he always makes Wigan - already an impressive side - even better.

Hull - who missed the leadership of their own veteran forward Gareth Ellis due to injury - did not have enough ball to try and test his fitness in terms of defensive work and Lam could afford to give him his first breather after 19 minutes. .

Soon after that, Wigan added their third try.

Connor Wynne, the 19-year-old Hull full-back playing due to Jamie Shaul’s head injury, had already seen one non-threatening kick bounce up and be fumbled.

When he tried to trap the next one from Thomas Leuluai, only to see it wickedly flick up and strike his flailing arm, the teenager desperately needed a team-mate to put an arm around him or at least offer some consolation.

It looked like no one would. Ligi Sao finally got over to do so. Hopefully it didn’t break any Covid rules.

From that possession, French - the electric Australian full-back who boasts so much sheer pace and elan - put on his big step to beat Marc Sneyd near the line.

Sneyd had been a surprise inclusion in the squad on Thursday given he was not expected to return from a knee injury for some weeks yet.

The prolific scrum-half, who won the Lance Todd Trophy when Hull won the Cup in 2016 and again 12 months later, was not able to exert any of his usual influence here but neither were any of his colleagues.

Even the usually reliable Tuimavave had an off-day, not only being caught out for Farrell’s opener but spilling at a play-the-ball on the first tackle deep in his own territory.

His side did not have possession in Wigan’s 20 until the 27th minute.

Even then, it was wasted, Fonua dropping Connor’s pass while Danny Houghton endured the rarity of one of his dummy-half passes dribbling along the ground.

Connor, too, dropped a simple pass and the misery was ongoing even after Wigan lost both Dominic Manfredi and Powell to HIAs.

The second period was not as embarrassing, Farrell not scoring his second try until the 55th minute.

England colleague Oliver Gildart also scored after Hull were essentially marched 60m downfield when Connor was penalised for dissent,juggling a ball which was deemed a fumble on a rare FC attack.

Connor did deliver a nice piece of trickery to provide Fonua with a consolation try but it seems a long, long time ago since the pair combined to help lift the Cup in 2017.

Hull FC: Wynne; Fonua, Tuimavave, Griffin, Faraimo; Connor, Sneyd; Matongo, Johnstone, Fash, Ma’u, Lane, Cator. Substitutes: Houghton, Brown, Sao, Satae.

Wigan Warriors: French; Manfredi, Hardaker, Gildart, J Burgess; Leuluai, Hastings; Harvard, Powell, Partington, Isa, Farrell,O’Loughlin. Substitutes: Clark, Greenwood, Shorrocks, Smith.

Referee: Robert Hicks (Oldham)