Hull KR claimed a landmark win as they beat Wigan Warriors 18-8 at the DW Stadium.

History was against the Robins but they produced a heroic performance to win in Wigan for the first time since 2009.

KR reporter James O’Brien delivers the verdict from the DW Stadium.

Analysis

As the rest of the country watched the crunch Euro 2020 clash between England and Scotland, Rovers recorded a result that sent shockwaves through Super League.

The Robins were widely considered early play-off contenders after nine rounds but there was one thing missing: a statement victory.

That they got it in an attritional game against a team that lives for such battles and at a venue where they have perennially struggled will do wonders for belief.

It wasn’t pretty but the grit and pride Rovers displayed with several key men missing shows they have a strong mentality to go with the flair that has won Tony Smith’s side so many admirers.

There were tries for Ben Crooks, Ryan Hall and Adam Quinlan but the game was won deep inside KR’s own half as they turned away Wigan time and again.

With the likes of St Helens and Catalans Dragons to come, the Robins have proved they belong in that company as Super League approaches the halfway mark.

KR’s preparation was not ideal, losing Rowan Milnes at the start of the week due to Covid-19 and Jordan Abdull on the eve of the game after he failed a HIA.

That meant a brand new half-back partnership in Brad Takairangi and Mikey Lewis but Rovers did not see much of the ball in the first half.

The Robins were guilty of making unforced errors coming away from their own end, which allowed Wigan to dominate possession and field position.

But they could find no way through a gutsy and cohesive KR defensive unit as Smith’s team showed just how far they have come.

Helped by a series of penalties and six against from referee Robert Hicks, Wigan set up camp on the Rovers line.

But the Robins repelled the 2020 Grand Finalists time after time, the highlights try-saving efforts from Will Maher and Kane Linnett.

The Warriors were twice held up over the line and turned down the offer of two points on several occasions.

It felt as if the dam would burst when George King was sin-binned for repeated infringements but KR continued to throw themselves into collisions and, more importantly, make the right defensive decisions.

Rovers got their reward three minutes before half-time thanks to two big plays from Takairangi.

First the stand-in half-back knocked the ball up for an intercept 10 out from the Wigan line and then put Crooks over in the corner with a nice looping pass.

The winger landed a superb conversion from the touchline to give KR a 6-0 half-time lead, with the hooter greeted by a smattering of boos in a good sign for the visitors.

The game continued in the same scrappy fashion after the break, to the frustration of the home fans.

Liam Farrell thought he had ended Wigan’s try drought shortly after the restart, only for Hicks to rule a knock-on over the line.

The Warriors’ frustrations continued as Farrell threw a pass into touch and Oliver Gildart failed to take in an offload with open field in front of him.

Despite those close shaves, Rovers were managing the game well and silenced the home crowd when Hall superbly finished Lewis’ pinpoint cross-field kick.

Crooks made it 12-0 and given everything that had gone before that appeared to be enough.

But Wigan gave themselves a lifeline with 15 minutes to go as Gildart went over out wide on the last tackle.

All of a sudden the Warriors had found their groove and they were right back in when Gildart scored again after Liam Marshall raced on to a kick in behind by Harry Smith.

Importantly Smith missed both conversions from the left touchline so Rovers held a narrow 12-8 lead heading into the closing stages.

Nevertheless, it was a huge test of KR’s resolve against one of Super League’s top teams with their tails up.

What happened next underlined Rovers’ play-off credentials.

The Robins composed themselves to dampen Wigan’s enthusiasm and then struck the killer blow thanks to a superb set play.

Lewis got the ball in his hands and instead of taking the negative option found Quinlan with a lovely reverse kick, with the full-back doing the rest.

Crooks added the extras to make sure of a historic away win for this ever-improving Hull KR side.

Key moment

Rovers were on the ropes in the final 15 minutes but steadied themselves and Lewis showed maturity beyond his years to spot an opportunity and nail it.

Good day – Mikey Lewis

All 17 deserve huge credit but for the youngster to come in from the cold to produce such a strong performance speaks volumes for his character.

Bad day – Wigan

The Warriors looked like a team that hadn’t played for three weeks with a disjointed display that angered the locals.

Bigger picture

There is no let-up for Rovers with St Helens up next, although the reigning champions have been depleted by international call-ups. Depleted or not, KR will fancy their chances the way they are playing.

Wigan: Jackson Hastings, Jake Bibby, Willie Isa, Oliver Gildart, Liam Marshall, Tommy Leuluai, Harry Smith, Brad Singleton, Sam Powell, Joe Bullock, John Bateman, Liam Farrell, Oliver Partington.

Bench: Liam Byrne, Ethan Havard, Joe Shorrocks, Kai Pearce-Paul.

Hull KR: Adam Quinlan, Ben Crooks, Greg Minikin – good D, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Ryan Hall, Brad Takairangi, Mikey Lewis, George Lawler, Matt Parcell, Will Maher try saver, Luis Johnson, Kane Linnett try saver, Dean Hadley.

Bench: Albert Vete, Jez Litten, Matty Storton, George King.