Wigan Warriors fullback Sam Tomkins and Hull FC centre Josh Griffin were sin-binned for punching as tempers boiled over in the historic Super League match at WIN Stadium on Saturday night.
Watched by a crowd of 12,416, which surpassed the attendances at the three regular-season fixtures between the clubs last season, the first Super League match played outside of Europe proved costly for Hull, who suffered a heavy injury toll and lost 24-10.
The first indication of how busy the night would be for the Hull FC medical staff came after just the second minute of the match when USA World Cup winger Bureta Faraimo groggily came from the field.
With no backs on his interchange bench, Hull coach Lee Radford sent Danny Washbrook into the fray but Wigan immediately took advantage of his inexperience on the flank when opposite winger Liam Marshall finished a 70-metre try after a Liam Farrell break.
Marshall quickly went from hero to zero when he dropped the kick-off after Sam Tomkins’s conversion of his fourth-minute try but it was only a set of tackles again that Wigan’s travelling contingent of fans was singing – literally – his praises again.
On this occasion, the 21-year-old caught out Jake Connor, who had shifted from centre to the wing, with his electric pace and raced 60 metres to score his second try in the opening six minutes of the match.
Wigan coach Shaun Wane must have wondered how his side wasn’t further ahead after a series of bombed tries, but his frustration would not have matched that of Radford after a mix-up between Connor and fullback Jamie Shaul from a Sam Powell bomb.
However, Wigan failed to capitalise and it was Hull who scored next when former South Sydney Rabbitohs winger Fetuli Talanoa dived from outside the field of play to get the ball down for a 25th-minute try.
The joy of the vocal Hull fans quickly turned to concern after hooker Danny Houghton, the 2016 Super League Man of Steel, limped from the field with a calf injury and when he returned after half-time he was dressed in his club polo shirt.
Marshall almost scored a third try from a perfectly placed George Williams kick in the 30th minute but video referee Steve Chiddy ruled he had knocked on and another fumble from the Wigan winger at the other end led to Hull’s second try by Jordan Abdull.
Tomkins ensured Wigan went to half-time with a 12-10 lead when he landed a 42-metre penalty goal just two minutes before the break but it would have done little to soften the tone of Wane’s halftime talk.
It was a much more composed Warriors performance in the second half as they controlled field position and wore down their battered opponents, who had just two fit replacements on the bench and second-rower Mark Minichiello soldiering on with an ankle injury.
Williams and Powell combined for interchange prop Ryan Sutton to score in the 45th minute and Ben Flower extended Wigan’s lead to 24-10 when he crashed over in the 70th minute.
Tempers flared in the dying minutes after Tomkins threw Griffin over the sideline and referee Matt Cecchin had no hesitation in issuing yellow cards to the pair for punching.