French and Marshall score hat-tricks as Wigan blow away weakened Hull KR
This result was far from a season-defining one for Hull KR, but the ramifications for them and Super League as a whole could be felt in the coming weeks. The competition is sleepwalking towards a player welfare crisis as the end of the regular season approaches, epitomised by an injury situation at Rovers that left them with little chance of success here.
The result, which ultimately strengthened Wigan’s grip on second place, was decided long before half-time. The Warriors were professional and clinical where it mattered, but against a Hull KR side that started without 16 first-team regulars before losing another four during the match, they were more than strong enough to get the job done.
However, there is a more pertinent issue than the two competition points. In a frantic bid to finish the Super League season earlier than usual, clubs will be asked to play twice across the August bank holiday weekend, meaning three games in the span of barely more than a week — and at a time of the year when players have already had to deal with one double-header weekend at Easter, as well as mounting injury lists across the competition.
That does not exactly sit in line with the sport’s constant proclamations that it is a leader in player welfare. If anything it suggests the opposite, and you can only begin to wonder what sort of lineup a club with injury issues such as Hull KR will be able to field in the weeks ahead. They are not the only team battling such issues but credit must go to Rovers who, despite being well beaten andseeing their playoff hopes take a hit, battled gamely in the face of adversity.
“I don’t know what to say about it,” their interim coach, Danny McGuire, said. “It’s actually laughable. If I don’t laugh then I’ll cry. I’m trying my best to stay as positive as possible.”
Wigan ruthlessly put the game beyond Rovers inside the opening 20 minutes, with a brace from Bevan French backed up by tries from Liam Marshall and Mike Cooper. Hull KR, who lost pivots Will Dagger and Lachlan Coote during a bruising first half, responded through Ethan Ryan’s try, but it was the only one they scored all evening.
Wigan’s ultra-critical coach, Matt Peet, watched his side take their foot off the gas after soaring into a 20-0 lead, and certainly made his feelings known at half-time. “We just got a little bit untidy,” he said. “I wasn’t happy and I said my piece to them, we lost some respect for the game.”
His players responded after the interval though, with a much more rounded display in which they scored five unanswered tries. French crossed for his hat-trick shortly after the restart and Marshall followed suit with a quick-fire brace as Hull KR’s lack of numbers began to show. Wigan did not ease up like they did in the first half either, with further tries for Kai Pearce-Paul and Patrick Mago.
By the end, Charlie Cavanaugh’s and Connor Moore’s Rovers debuts ended in injuries, and the visitors finished with 12 players after running out of subs. Super League will hope this is not a situation that becomes the norm.