Hull KR 26 Wigan Warriors 14: Shaun Kenny-Dowall inspires KR on glorious night for KR

ON glorious nights like this, is it any wonder Neil Hudgell wants to be back at the helm?

Hull KR underlined their growing Super League quality once more with a wonderful victory over Wigan Warriors, dripping with class, creativity and no little grit.

It completed a rare double over their illustrious opponents - a first in 37 years - enhanced their play-offs hopes considerably and left them in a perfect spot ahead of the derby at Hull FC in a week’s time.

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But the big news arrived just moments before kick-off when it was announced to the crowd of 6,230 that Rovers were no longer for sale: owner Hudgell had, after all, decided to retain control of the club he has supported all his life.

Hull College Craven Park erupted. It would not be the last time this evening.

Hudgell announced last summer that having invested so heavily and for so long - 16 years - he had taken the club as far as he could.

Paul Lakin was brought in as a new chief executive and he has been in charge of the day-to-day running of KR, who finished bottom last term, while it looked for new investment and potential new owners.

However, nine months on from Hudgell standing aside, he is now staying around to help continue their obvious revival.

Hull KR's Jez Litten goes in for their final try (ALLAN MCKENZIE/SWPIX)

Lakin has certainly helped make significant improvements on and off the field since taking over in November, last night’s opening of the Craven Streat food and drink fan village just one of his positive impacts.

Located behind the posts at Craven Park, fans were invited to enjoy outdoor live music and entertainment in the build-up to kick-off with the club successfully attempting to create a festival atmosphere.

It is just the sort of initiative Super League - not just the Robins - urgently need and a reminder of what Toronto Wolfpack did once offer.

Taking inspiration from the name of their first-ever East Hull based stadium, Craven Street - which the club departed almost 100 years ago - it certainly helped fans get in the mood for what was to come as Rovers raced into a 16-0 lead inside just 17 minutes.

Hull KR's Shaun Kenny-Dowall leaps on try-scorer Kane Linnett. (ALLAN MCKENZIE/SWPIX)

Wigan rallied to trail just 16-14 at the break but Adrian Lam’s side were then kept pointless in the second period by the hosts’ superb defence, frustrations boiling over at the death as Liam Farrell and Matt Parcell were sin-binned for fighting.

Ryan Hall celebrated his 400th career game but Rovers were indebted to his centre Shaun Kenny-Dowall who delivered a magnificent captain’s knock.

The veteran Kiwi limped off shortly before half-time with what looked a serious injury but returned for the start of the second period and was inspirational.

It was the centre’s scintillating break that set up position for Kane Linnett’s 56th minute try that extended their lead to 20-14.

Ben Crooks hit an upright with his touchline conversion attempt but Rovers scored straight from the restart anyway.

Matty Storton exploded clear for the impressive Greg Minikin to find a perfect pass for Jez Litten to score his first try of the season.

Crooks improved and then Smith’s side defended manfully, even if they had to hold their breath when Jackson Hastings had a 73rd minute effort ruled out by the video official.

Earlier, they had ruthlessly capitalised on a desperately poor error-ridden start by Wigan.

Smith’s side scored three tries but two of them came after the visitors spilled while playing the ball in their own half.

Wigan continually put the ball down, as if they had been sampling the Craven Streat facilities themselves before kick-off, although the loss of influential hooker Sam Powell to a head injury in the early moments clearly did not help.

Albert Vete, the giant former Melbourne Storm prop who delivered a terrorising opening stint, powered over after six minutes and Rovers immediately had a spring in their step.

Brad Takairangi’s vision then set Minikin in motion, the centre fending off England’s Oliver Gildart before putting Ethan Ryan free.

The winger did well to advance before Ben Crooks slipped Rowan Milnes - fresh from signing a new deal this week - over with the final pass.

It took four defenders to halt Vete the next time he rumbled close and then Takairangi - excellent on his 200th appearance - also got close, emerging with a bloodied head after Wigan had denied him on the line.

However, it only delayed Rovers scoring, Milnes chipping to the corner where Ryan - in his first game back from a wrist injury - did wonderfully to leap above Liam Marshall and wriggle free.

Crooks improved two of the scores but once the hosts made a rare handling error of their own, their opponents struck.

Jake Bibby produced a brilliant finish in the right corner to secure his 12th Super League try of the campaign and start a purple patch of three Wigan tries in just 12 minutes to completely alter the dynamic of the contest.

Crooks spilled Hastings’ kick to allow the Great Britain half-back to supply Liam Marshall with the first of his two tries.

The second came soon after when Takairangi’s ill-conceived long pass gifted possession back to Wigan and Gildart was able to produce an exquisite flick for Marshall to deliver an even better finish than Bibby.

Smith was able to add one conversion but Adrian Lam’s side had no answer to Rovers’ dominant second half display.

On the final hooter? Elated Robins fans headed back to Craven Streat to continue the party.

Hull KR: Crooks; Ryan, Minikin, Kenny-Dowall, Hall; Takairangi, Milnes; Vete, Parcell, King, Linnett, Johnson, Lawler. Substitutes: Sims, Litten, Storton, Maher.

Wigan Warriors: Hardaker; Bibby, Isa, Gildart, Marshall; Smith, Hastings; Clubb, Powell, Harvard, Paul-Pearce, Farrell, Smithies. Substitutes: Bullock, Byrne, Field, Shorrocks.

Referee: Liam Moore (Leeds)