With one place left in the Challenge Cup Semi-Finals the bookies had a clear favourite to join Salford, Leeds and Warrington in the draw. All of the smart money was on a win for the Wigan Warriors against a struggling Hull FC.
FC were playing their third game in nine days but did have talisman Marc Sneyd back in their line up. Wigan welcomed back skipper Shaun O’Loughlin as they looked for a push into the semi-finals and a chance of their first Challenge Cup trophy win for seven years.
The last time that Wigan won in the final they beat Hull FC, the last time Hull won, they beat Wigan.
Wigan hit the front on four minutes as Sam Powell stretched for the line and got the ball on the ground despite the attention of a couple of FC tacklers. Zak Hardaker banged over the conversion for a 6-0 lead.
Wigan’s second came on nine minutes with Liam Farrell pushing away the Hull defenders to ground a grubber to the corner. Once again Hardaker was accurate with the boot and it was already looking like a bad day at the office for the Airlie Birds.
Magical footwork from Bevan French saw the Warriors forward jink his way to the line from ten metres out and ground the ball. Hardaker was unable to put the conversion through the posts, his side now 16-0 ahead.
Wigan’s defence absorbed a sequence of FC attacks but remained unbreached and on thirty-seven a Hardaker dink over the top was collected and grounded by French from five metres. Wigan had turned defence into attack and were in full control.
Hull were attacking on the final hooter but a loose pass found its way into the hands of Joe Burgess who went almost ninety metres down the left wing for the fifth unanswered try of the half. Hardaker was unable to add the conversion but at 26-0 the game was already over.
FC held out until the fifty-seventh minute when Harry Smith fed Farrell with an inside pass for the second rower to get his second, the nearest non-Wiganner to him being the referee as he walked over the line. Hardaker missed again but at 30-0 it no longer mattered.
Oliver Gildart went through a gap on sixty-five off a Smith pass and improved the angle, grounding behind the sticks to make the Hardaker goal a formality for 36-0.
Hull finally registered four points just before seventy, the last points of the game, as Mahe Fonua took an over the top pass and grounded by the right corner flag. Marc Sneyd was unable to convert from the touchline.
The Airlie Birds were devoid of ideas in attack but did show some determination in defence to keep the Warriors down to just the seven tries. As the game wore on the recent Hull schedule took its toll as Wigan sealed an easy victory to set up a semi-final date with the Leeds Rhinos on the 3rd October.
Hull FC: Wynne, Fonua (T), Tuimavave, Griffin, Faraimo, Connor, Sneyd, Matongo, Johnstone, Fash, Ma’u, Lane, Cator. Subs: Houghton, Satae, Sao, Brown.
Wigan Warriors: French (2T), Burgess J (T), Gildart (T), Hardaker (4G), Manfredi, Leuluai, Hastings, Havard, Powell (T), Partington, Isa, Farrell (2T), O’Loughlin. Subs: Clark, Greenwood, Shorrocks J, Smith.
Referee: Robert Hicks.
Full Time: 4-36.
Ground: AJ Bell Stadium, Salford.