Wigan Win Big To Show Who’s Number One
LS Sport’s Andrew Belt reports from the DW Stadium…
Leeds Rhinos are a fine example of a club reaping the benefits of being actively engaged with the local community. The club constantly place themselves at the forefront of innovative schemes designed to raise awareness of a particular notable cause and go above and beyond to recognise achievements in Leeds and cater for their loyal fans’ needs.
Yorkshire’s most successful rugby league team is rewarded with Super League’s highest average attendance year upon year and continue to raise the bar behind the scenes in the sport. Over the Pennines, Lancashire’s greatest rugby league side, Wigan Warriors, are averaging similar attendances and their efforts within the local community haven’t gone unnoticed.
Last Friday, the club’s showpiece community event, the Big One Four took place in front of a crowd of 17, 736 as the Warriors put in a virtuoso performance against Hull FC to win 48-10 and edge closer towards the League Leaders’ Shield. The game was the fourth annual Big One, the brainchild of the marketing department at Wigan Warriors who pick one home fixture every year to significantly lower ticket prices in an attempt to fill the DW Stadium and promote the sport in the process.
The rest of the rugby league family have picked up on the efforts made by the Warriors and the event, littered with pre-match entertainment, is a wonderful advert for rugby league. Having worked successfully in the past in fixtures versus Leeds Rhinos, Huddersfield Giants and Warrington Wolves, Hull FC were chosen this year to represent a top-class opponent at the pinnacle of the game.
The Black and Whites are sure to be in the Play-Offs come the end of the season and are aiming high following the comments of Hull chairman, Adam Pearson, indicating that he’s willing to spend big to win success at the KC Stadium. Sadly, Wigan’s claim that they were aiming for more than 20, 000 to attend the Big One Four wasn’t fulfilled and, despite a modest following from Hull, the rows of empty seats in the away end did fail to live up to the billing of the fixture.
A welcome addition to the rugby league diary
It was in front of the sparsely-populated Hull end that the first try was scored by Super League’s pin-up boy, Sam Tomkins, in the second minute and Josh Charnley kicked for the first two points of a 24-point haul for the Wigan winger. Hull seemed to settle after going behind but were torn apart just six minutes after the first try when a wonderful row of passes from left to right enabled Tomkins to find George Carmont who drove past a few despairing tackles before hooking the ball on to the left-hand side where Gareth Hock was waiting to receive the ball and touch down.
Charnley hit the post with the resulting goal effort and would go on to miss the next two conversions in a poor first-half kicking display, however, the right winger pounced on Tomkins’ pass from inside the Hull 10 metre line to extend Wigan’s lead in the 17th minute. Wigan went 18-0 up through Charnley’s second try of the game following good play from Tomkins and Jack Hughes before the half-hour mark and looked set to repeat the 56-12 rout they secured at the KC Stadium back in April, but Hull didn’t look overawed and deservedly clawed a try back through Tom Lineham.
A second Hull try was in the offing shortly after but Jamie Foster spilled the ball in a promising position and the Warriors were given a penalty 20 metres out following a knock-on from Aaron Heremaia on the stroke of half-time. These errors would have devastating consequences for the Airlie Birds as Matty Smith’s grubber kick was well-anticipated by Tomkins who gave Wigan a comfortable 24-4 half-time lead.
A masterclass by England’s most talented rugby league club
Hull looked to attack more often after the break, with Brett Seymour kicking well for the Black and Whites, but Wigan were up to the challenge and Charnley claimed his hat-trick after Hughes had run through the left-hand side of the away defence on a quick counter-attack. Charnley followed up the try with his third goal out of six attempts and made it four out of seven on 65 minutes after Smith walked past the Hull midfield to set up Liam Farrell for Wigan’s seventh try of the game.
Michael McIlorum was the next Wigan player to get in on the act, bundling over the line despite the attentions of the opposition defence, and Charnley kicked the extras to make it 42-4. Hull finally got some second-half points when Seymour went jumped down through the posts and Foster grabbed two points for himself but the final word in a pulsating evening went to Wigan when Sam Powell rushed over the line for a debut try that Charnley converted to bring the scoring to a 48-10 climax.
The Big One Four created a great atmosphere and the crowd were treated to a masterclass by England’s most talented rugby league club that proved that Wigan remain the team to beat in Super League. The Big One is a welcome addition to the rugby league diary and next year’s effort will surely be another exciting event to look forward to.
Words: Andrew Belt