Fouth placed Wigan Warriors travelled to third placed Hull FC as they looked to close the gap to just two points as the race for the play-off places hots up. A win for Hull would lift them six points clear of the Warriors and aid their claim to a top five finish while Wigan knew that defeat could see them end the weekend outside the play-off places.
Lee Radford juggled the side which missed out on Wembley last weekend with Masi Matongo replacing the injured Sika Manu. Adrian Lam could call on the services of Sean O’Loughlin and Joe Burgess while Thomas Leuluai passed a late fitness test to take up his spot in the line-up.
FC won by a single point in extra time the last time that the two sides met, way back in February.
The opening exchanges were punctuated by errors and penalties from both sides. The opening points came when Romaine Navarrete dislodged the ball in the tackle and Marc Sneyd kicked the penalty goal with eight minutes on the clock.
Sneyd added a second penalty after Oliver Partington struck out in the tackle.
There was a weight until the twenty fifth minute for the first try when Liam Marshall rose high above the FC winger Bureta Faraimo to take the ball and ground. Faraimo hit the man in the air and the video referee awarded a try and a subsequent penalty. Hardaker kicked the conversion and the penalty goal for the Warriors to take an 8-4 lead.
A Hardaker penalty goal extended the lead on thirty-one, and after an equally scrappy closing ten minutes, Sneyd kicked a penalty goal on the hooter after he’d been taken out late by Willie Isa. There was some pushing and shoving as the two sides entered the tunnel setting up a fiesty second half.
Seven minutes into the second half Marshall got his second of the game, tucking the ball under his arm to exploit the one man overlap wide right and slide over the line to score under the tackle. Hardaker was unable to add the conversion, Wigan with an eight point lead.
Liam Byrne had a tackle ruled out on fifty-three for a double movement.
Tempers were becoming frayed on both sides with aggressive reactions to tackles, needless penalties, and referee Thaler having his hands full.
With sixteen minutes remaining Scott Taylor scored a close range try, spinning over the line to ground after taking a short pass from Danny Houghton. Scoring by the posts gave Sneyd the conversion to reduce the arrears to 12-14.
A high tackle from Morgan Smithies on Mark Minichiello gifted Sneyd his fifth goal of the night to level the scores with ten minutes remaining.
An attempted Sneyd drop goal on seventy-two was charged down by Willie Isa but three minutes later Zak Hardaker kicked a forty metre effort to edge the Warriors into a one point win.
A scrappy and bad spirited game which maintained the excitement until the dying moments. Wigan recorded a crucial win to keep their chances of a play-off place alive but the loss will hurt Hull and Lee Radford as they are drawn back into the dogfight for the crucial five places. Both sides lost a number of players through injury and may count the cost over the coming weeks.
FC: Shaul, Naulago, Tuimavave, Griffin, Faraimo, Kelly, Sneyd (5G), Taylor (T), Houghton, Green, Lane, Minichiello, Westerman. Subs: Connor, Ellis, Fash, Matongo.
Warriors: Hardaker (3G, DG), Marshall (2T), Sarginson, Gildart, Burgess, Williams, Leuluai, Navarrete, Powell, Partington, Isa, Farrell, Smithies. Subs: Byrne, Clubb, O’Loughlin, Sammut.
Referee: Ben Thaler.