ALL hopes of Hull FC and Wigan rereating the magic of their epic 1985 Challenge Cup final - probably the greatest in the competition’s long history - quickly vanished in a hapless, error-strewn game at Wembley today.
This was, instead, arguably the worst ever showpiece as both sides struggled for any semblance of fluency in the rain.
But favourites Wigan - with Matty Smith’s tactical kicking earning him the Lance Todd Trophy - were, let’s say, less bad than Hull and so earned a record-extending 19th win while the club from East Yorkshire saw their infamous winless run at Wembley continue.
It is now eight games where they have failed to prosper. Peter Gentle’s side also became the first team to fail to score in a final since St Helens were vanquished 27-0 by Wigan in 1989.
Rookie full-back Jamie Shaul and the irrepressible Richard Whiting did produce great performances for the Airlie Birds but most others failed to get any hold of a largely unforgettable game.
They trailed just 6-0 at the break following Iain Thornley’s 21st minute try, converted by Pat Richards, and, so, had real hopes of recovering following a scratchy first period.
But yet more errors came again in the second period as the underdogs failed to handle the pressure.
The key moment came in the 50th minute when, still trailing just 8-0 after the first of Richards’ two penalties, Shaul picked up a Wigan kick near his own line and produced a scintillating break straight back down centrefield.
Having beaten four players it looked like the 21-year-old would score probably the finest try ever seen here at this famous ground.
However, Wigan’s England winger Josh Charnley got back to drag him down just short and Hull would never created another genuine opportunity.
Instead, it was left to Sam Tomkins to scamper over in the last minute to secure Wigan’s win and leave abject Hull searching for answers.
As expected, Ben Crooks made his return for them from an ankle injury but the 20-year-old centre endured a nightmare first period with a series of unforced handling mistakes while also coming under pressure from Wigan’s kicking game.
It was fortunate that Wigan only capitalised once when Thornley fended off a weak Danny Tickle attempted tackle to slide in at the corner.
Hull then imploded, bizarrely forcing passes in their own half, and they simply never recovered.