HULL FC chairman Adam Pearson stated in his programme notes last night that he was “baffled” as to why Hull KR had said they were not bothered about the Super 8s.
After this dire performance, he might reconsider his stance.
Pearson was referring to opposite number Neil Hudgell’s comments in The Yorkshire Post last week when the Hull KR chief said sneaking into the top eight – and facing the leading sides over seven more rounds – could result in a “slow, painful death” to their season.
In defeating Hull KR last week, ecstatic Hull did secure their own place in the Super 8s, but they were given a disturbing taste of what might be to come by a ruthless Wigan side who now go level with Leeds Rhinos at the top.
Hull were without captain Gareth Ellis after he succumbed to a season-ending Achilles injury in the derby and stand-off Leon Pryce, who has also been ruled out until next year.
Pryce will undergo a shoulder operation on Tuesday on the injury he suffered against Rovers and a difficult task without those two was made worse last night by Hull’s constant willingness to throw away possession.
You had to admire their ambition in attempting to keep Wigan on their toes with their offload game but, more often than not, it was badly executed, ball went to ground and their welcoming visitors tended to score instead as FC’s three-match winning run was brought to a shuddering halt.
Joe Westerman, the England loose forward who has generally been a reliable force over the last 18 months, committed one such error in the 36th minute which led to speedy Wigan stand-off George Williams scampering over from 50m. Matty Smith added his fourth conversion and Hull were 24-6 down.
They were already staring at another defeat which looks likely to leave them seventh in the final regular table but, also, probably six points adrift of the top-four spot required to make the play-off semi-finals after those next seven games.
In contrast, Wigan showed their class from as early as the sixth minute, a lovely round-the-corner pass from centre Anthony Gelling unleashing Joe Burgess, who altered his direction immediately on halfway to leave Hull full-back Jordan Rankin helpless as he swerved infield to score.
The home side quickly started to demonstrate their wastefulness – a wayward Liam Watts offload, a rash Westerman grubber, a dropped Marc Sneyd pass under no pressure – and Wigan barely had to get out of second gear.
Williams’s pace ripped Hull open again and, though he was denied by Rankin, Smith’s precise loft to the corner was palmed down by Josh Charnley for John Bateman to score.
There was a rare moment of Hull class as Jordan Abdull, the teenage half-back replacing Pryce, sent Richard Whiting over with a lovely pass in the 20th minute for Sneyd to convert.
However, by the time Westerman added their second try in the 66th minute, Lee Radford’s side had clearly botched their way through this game.
They were not aided by another injury, replacement prop Josh Bowden being led off midway through the first half, although there was little other mitigation.
Sam Powell’s score in the 24th minute was perhaps fortuitous after Gelling had hacked on Matty Bowen’s hopeful kick and Hull were denied a score after referee Ben Thaler ruled Rankin’s hurried hand-on for Jack Logan was marginally forward.
Instead, Williams capitalised on Westerman’s moment of madness and, when Bowen failed to stop a rampaging Tom Lineham one-on-one just seconds into the second period, it was obvious the hosts would not stage a remarkable recovery.
Rather Wigan would create the finest score of the night as, after another handling error, a set-play near the posts saw Joel Tomkins produce a perfectly sublime and instant inside ball for a darting Bowen to angle over from 10m.
Fetuli Talanoa, as ever a willing worker for Hull, made two dangerous attacks but passed to Danny Houghton when the play was never truly conceivable and, second time around, offloaded to another grateful Wigan defender.
All of which meant even Wigan loose forward Sean O’Loughlin could score, the England captain who, in all his 15 seasons of first-team rugby, had strangely never crossed against Hull. Westerman responded but, fittingly Bowen got his second late on.
The Queenslander will leave Wigan at the end of the season due to Sam Tomkins’s return from Auckland.
He is still only 33 and in great form but the former Australia full-back last night confirmed he has decided to opt for retirement and will return home to undertake a non-playing role with North Queensland Cowboys.
Prop Dom Crosby rounded off a dismal night for Hull with his first try of the season in the 77th minute with Smith adding his eighth successive conversion.
Radford admitted: “What a difference a week makes.
“We spoke all week about not making reaching the eight the highlight of the season.
“Last Friday was huge for us but it couldn’t be our Grand Final. We wanted to push as hard as we could for the top four so to back it up with that is hugely disappointing.
“I said at half-time we had to be prepared to hit a bit harder and 10 minutes into the second half we could have had 12 points.
“But a lack of execution cost us. It was the same in the Challenge Cup quarter-final against Leeds and we were exposed again.
“We looked wounded and they (Wigan) are not a forgiving side.”
Hull FC: Rankin; Lineham, Talanoa, Logan, Michaels; Abdull, Sneyd; Paea, Houghton, Watts, Minichiello, Whiting, Westerman. Substitutes: Green, Thompson, Bowden, Hadley
Wigan Warriors: Bowen; Charnley, Bateman, Gelling, Burgess; Williams, Smith; Crosby, McIlorum, Flower, J Tomkins, L Farrell, O’Loughlin. Substitutes: Powell, Clubb, Tautai, Sutton.
Referee: Ben Thaler (Wakefield)