Hull KR crash out of Challenge Cup as Wigan Warriors deliver brutal lesson

Hull KR's hopes of Wembley redemption were emphatically ended after they were convincingly defeated by Wigan Warriors 38-6 in the Challenge Cup semi-final. The Robins were no match for Matt Peet's defending Super League champions, who reasserted that they are truly the team to beat if anyone has hopes of winning a trophy this year.

Rovers have now finished a five-match sequence of playing the other teams in the top segment of the table, and Rovers will have learned plenty from it. Victories over Wigan and St Helens have proven they're viable contenders, but then days like this show they have a long way to go to be at the required level consistently.

Wigan were majestic, their defensive intensity and offensive flamboyance was a joy to behold. But Rovers, once they had a score to chase, fell away poorly. They now have to put their focus into league action, but this was a disappointing day for the huge Rovers contingent that delivered a cauldron of noise in Doncaster in anticipation of another special day that never came.

Three changes were made by Willie Peters. Elliot Minchella and Sam Luckley returned from injury, while Tom Opacic was recalled to replace the cup-tied Jack Broadbent. Jack Brown, also ineligible, and Matty Storton also made way.

Last week's defeat to Warrington Wolves saw Hull KR's right-edge come under scrutiny and questions were being asked again after four minutes. They backed off as Jake Wardle got hold of the ball, and that allowed him to skip on the outside of Peta Hiku and score the game's opening try.

It was a tough pill to swallow for Rovers, who had started the game well and defended aggressively. That saw them force an error soon after, giving them a chance to hit back from close range. However, Wigan defended it with relative ease. But Rovers remained strong and were well in the contest.

But a key turning point came on 15 minutes. Rovers felt they should have had a penalty when Tyrone May and Harry Smith collided as the Rovers man chased a kick. Nothing was given; Wigan went straight up field, and Abbas Miski scored from a Bevan French kick that was precision exemplified, placing it perfectly over Ryan Hall's head. Smith's conversion made it 10-0.

Dean Hadley was withdrawn after that, he had received treatment shortly before, and Rovers lost their way. They started making errors and Wigan were bumping out of tackles. You cannot let a side as good as Matt Peet's men do that.

It felt like a mountain to climb when Junior Nsembah went over on 28 minutes. The young back-rower was awesome in this game and got a try to show for it, hitting a gap from close range and stretching over after Niall Evalds was unable to take a kick on the last.

But that mountain felt like Everest by half-time. Miski got his second, racing clear after Joe Burgess was unable to take an awkward kick that Wigan would then keep alive, and from the next set, Harry Smith would finish a flowing move after a short-side play breached Rovers' right edge, with Liam Marshall kicking inside. The Warriors, it must be said, had put on a clinic in the first half. 24-0 at the break.

Rovers needed a miracle, everyone knew that. But you also knew they wouldn't give up the game either. To their credit, they showed some spirit and fight as they battled to get back into the contest. Wigan showed Rovers respect by taking two points after earning back-to-back penalties, despite their healthy lead.

Adam Keighran's two points made it a five-score cushion, though Rovers soon cut that when they got on the board after 51 minutes. A cross-field kick was brought down and Lewis produced an incredible flick pass that allowed Burgess to race to the corner and score. Lewis converted.

However, another error was punished instantly. Hall failed to catch the kick-off and a few plays later, Tyler Dupree, once a transfer target at Craven Park, scored on a crash over from a yard out. Any momentum was gone in a few moments.

The game fizzled out thereafter. Opacic and Keighran were both sin-binned after coming together, with the Rovers centre striking his counterpart after a tackle. Thankfully, it was with an open palm. But from the next set, Wigan would get a seventh try, Miski scorching down the wing, kicking in-field and Sam Walters offloading to Wardle for another, which Smith converted.

Burgess had a try disallowed near the end, which appeared to be a harsh call, but it would have been no more than a consolation.

Hull KR: Niall Evalds, Joe Burgess, Peta Hiku, Tom Opacic, Ryan Hall, Tyrone May, Mikey Lewis, Sauaso Sue, Brad O'Neill, Jai Whitbread, Dean Hadley, James Batchelor, Elliot Minchella. Subs: Matt Parcell, George King, Kelepi Tanginoa, Sam Luckley.

Tries: Burgess (51)
Goals: Lewis 1/1

Wigan Warriors: Jai Field, Abbas Miski, Adam Keighran, Jake Wardle, Liam Marshall, Bevan French, Harry Smith, Ethan Havard, Brad O'Neill, Luke Thompson, Junior Nsembah, Liam Farrell, Kaide Ellis. Subs: Kruise Leeming, Patrick Mago, Tyler Dupree, Sam Walters.

Tries: Wardle (4, 66), Miski (16, 34), Nsembah (28), Smith (38), Dupree (53)
Goals: Smith 2/5, Keighran 3/3

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