Hull edge epic with second half rally
Warrington Wolves 16 - Hull FC 26
By Alan Domville (picture courtesy of Neil Ashurst, P&B Pictures)
This was an end to end thriller and despite Warrington holding the whip hand at 16-6 on 50 minutes, a powerful Hull side kept their nerve, took all their chances and claimed the points.
Wolves were beaten but unbowed, giving a determined display in a game that for the neutral spectator was a classic.
Head coach Tony Smith was able to include Michael Monaghan who had missed the last two games with injury but didn't risk Adrian Morley, fit again after a three months lay off after rupturing a bicep.
Missing was Brett Hodgson who limped out of the cup tie against Salford last Sunday and needs minor knee surgery that will keep him out for a fortnight. Chris Bridge and Ben Harrison are still nursing injuries.
In the absence of Morley and Hodgson, Trent Waterhouse captained the side.
Daniel Holdsworth and Richard Horne were at half back for Hull - an effective pairing that coach Peter Gentle will presumably have to split up given this week's signing of Jacob Miller from Wests Tigers on a two and a half years' contract. Out injured was prop Liam Watts.
After defending Hull's first set, Warrington went on to the attack but the move ended with Lee Briers kicking dead. Hull made a mistake in their first tackle and from the resultant scrum Richie Myler went close.
After Ben Westwood had conceded a penalty Hull lost possession and the Warrington player collected and raced clear but referee Richard Silverwood brought the players back for a scrum.
Quick hands took Wolves close again but the ball was lost.
Soon afterwards a home offload went astray and the impressive winger Tom Lineham picked up and raced over; Silverwood referred a possible push upstairs to Ben Thaler who ruled in Warrington's favour.
Wolves went back on the attack but a Stefan Ratchford pass to Ryan Atkins went forward.
Briers started to trouble the Hull defence with some towering kicks but Hull held out and were quick to go on the offensive themselves; one especially threatening move was halted when Joel Monaghan intercepted.
Then came a Wolves break on 20 minutes that looked certain to bring points; unfortunately Chris Riley couldn't hold a pass from Atkins.
Similarly, Hull's next sortie ended when Kirk Yeaman was unable to hold a pass on his shoulder.
For 26 minutes Micky Higham had been causing problems for the visitors but then gave way to Michael Monaghan and two minutes later the deadlock was broken.
Joel Monaghan made a terrific dash down his wing but couldn't make the line. Warrington were not to be denied however and first in the race for a neat kick through by Briers was Simon Grix. Briers goaled.
Joel was then rewarded for his earlier effort just three minutes later when he chased a Myler grubber and just managed to force his way over. Briers was unable to convert but Wolves were 10 points in front.
Westwood lost the ball in a tackle 20 metres from his own line but Chris Riley saved the situation by regaining possession. Warrington then turned over the ball again just two minutes from the interval and Tom Briscoe followed up a neat kick through and touched down under the posts. Daniel Holdsworth goaled and the Wolves lead was cut to four points.
There was still time for Lineham to spell danger again; happily his final pass went straight into the hands of Atkins.
Warrington had been the livelier of the two sides but had found the Hull defence far tougher than any other that had been faced in recent weeks.
On the restart Hull kicked out on the full and a great break by Michael Monaghan set up a scoring position but Richie Myler was unable to take a low pass.
On 50 minutes Myler was back in action again and his high kick to the corner was collected by Atkins who touched down. Briers added the extras to make it 16-6.
Hull struck back immediately however; Lineham went over and his touchdown was confirmed by Ben Thaler who ruled against a possible obstruction.
Briers continued to pepper the Hull backline with his kicking and while one of them was safely collected Myler's terrific tackle forced a goal line drop out.
Hull then stunned the home support when Richard Whiting took a neat pass from Crooks and raced behind the posts. Holdsworth's conversion levelled the scores.
A neat kick to the corner by Myler was diffused but the referee ruled he had been shoulder charged and gave Wolves a penalty. The Hull defence held firm.
Briers then sustained what looked like a nasty leg injury but he stayed on the field and continued to trouble the visitors.
More pressure from Warrington looked promising but a fine Myler kick to the corner was diffused by Shannon McDonnell.
With just over 10 minutes left Hull struck again when Whiting forced his way over. Holdsworth's conversion made it 22-16 and despite Warrington's best efforts there was more to come from Hull.
There were just two minutes left when Briscoe followed up his kick through to touch down.
This had been a terrific match between two committed sides determined to make it to Old Trafford.
Wolves' head of coaching and rugby Tony Smith comments on tonight's loss: "We'd have loved to have won but our opposition deserved to win; they were a little bit more energetic than us in some areas and forced a couple of things to happen a little better than we did. There wasn't much between the two teams at all. I thought both teams were very committed to their defence and worked very, very hard to make it tough on their opponents to score. It was a high quality game, I thought, I was pleased with the efforts we put in. We weren't quite at our best in terms of handling with some of the errors we came up with at certain times but we can accept that; we can accept effort and trying hard we just need to be more clinical in some of those close matches. It was a good game of Rugby League. We are disappointed but can accept it.
"We've been progressing and building to become more consistent and I don't think we were that far off tonight. I don't think the fact that you lose a game means it's all bad and everything goes out of the window. We were very good defensively and did a lot of good things. We made a couple of errors at times where in the close games it can hurt you and they did a couple of times there. I think we've got some good momentum and are developing well as a team. It's this part of the year that we've done okay over the last few years; the fact that we didn't win a game against another quality team that's in good form doesn't mean we've taken too much of a backward step. You want to win every game you play in but you can accept that - when a good team comes up with a good effort and is in good form. We'll bounce back I'm sure."
Stefan Ratchford; Chris Riley, Simon Grix, Ryan Atkins, Joel Monaghan; Lee Briers, Richie Myler; Paul Wood, Micky Higham, Chris Hill, Trent Waterhouse, Ben Westwood, Mike Cooper
Substitutes: Garreth Carvell, Glenn Riley, Ben Currie, Michael Monaghan
Tries: Grix, J.Monaghan, Atkins
Goals: Briers (2)
Shannon McDonnell; Tom Lineham, Ben Crooks, Kirk Yeaman, Tom Briscoe; Daniel Holdsworth, Richard Horne; Mark O'Meley, Danny Houghton, Chris Green, Gareth Ellis, Richard Whiting, Jay Pitts
Substitutes: Andy Lynch, Paul Johnson, Aaron Heremaia, Josh Bowden,
Tries: Briscoe (2), Lineham, Whiting (2)
Goals: Holdsworth (3)
18, May, 2013