Hull edge Wolves in Cup thriller
Tetley's Challenge Cup Semi Final
Hull FC 16 Warrington Wolves 12
By Rachel Arnett (photo courtesy of Neil Ashurst, P&B Pictures)
Warrington Wolves went into the semi-final encounter as current holders of the famous silverware and with the desire to reach Wembley for a fourth time in five years.
With Wigan Warriors already in the final a north-west derby was still on the cards so there was everything to play for in this 80 minutes of knock-out rugby league.
The Wolves' line-up saw a number of big names return having been rested last weekend and the Hull FC side also saw a couple of changes with Green and Crooks out, Arundel and Holdsworth in.
The Primrose & Blue and Black & Whites had met on two previous occasions this season winning one game apiece; league positions leaned in favour of the Wolves but form goes out of the window when it comes to the Challenge Cup as became apparent as the 80 minutes unfolded and Hull secured the win.
The first half saw some entertaining end-to-end play with both teams crossing for two tries and a Tickle conversion being the difference after the first forty. Momentum and control switched throughout and very little separated the two hard-hitting teams. The second half saw Hull edge further ahead before the Wolves clawed one back to make it a nail-biting finish but despite a number of penalties in their favour it wasn't to be.
Warrington were first in attack, driving down the middle to past half way in their opening set.
Joel Monaghan looked to have scored on three minutes but the referee pulled play back for a forward pass from the offload out to the wing.
A Hull FC 40/20 backed this up; a precision kick from Holdsworth opened up an opportunity for the Black and Whites with a scrum 15 metres out. The Wolves' defence stood strong and forced a knock-on giving breathing space once more.
From the scrum Westwood broke away to make good ground. With Joel Monaghan in support on his outside the Wolves were over for the first try on six minutes after a video referee decision. Ratchford's touchline conversion attempt went wide. 0-4.
A penalty on half way on 10 minutes opened up field position once again for the Wolves and a grubber kick from Ratchford into the left corner was followed up well by Riley and Waterhouse. Waterhouse grounded the ball but once again the decision was referred to the video referee for confirmation. The try was awarded on 12 minutes to nudge the Wolves in front 0-8 as Ratchford's boot hit the ball wide.
Hull responded well on 16 minutes when a Wolves' kick out to the wing was scooped up by Lineham; he put his foot on the gas to race over 70 metres for the try. Tickle added the extras, 6-8.
A second score came for the Black and Whites moments later this time through Whiting who stretched over in the corner. A touchline conversion attempt by Tickle went wide. 10-8 as the game entered the second quarter.
Hull were all fired up, with momentum pushing in their favour. The Wolves put in hard-hitting tackles to battle to keep them out and managed to regain some field position of their own but there wasn't much separating the two sides.
With just five minutes until half time the Wolves built some pressure but looked to have handed over possession for another breakaway Hull try before the referee deemed them to be offside and Wolves maintained a strong position 10 metres out. The opposition defence kept them out despite the Wolves peppering the line right across the width of the pitch.
A Hull knock-on gave the final chance for a Wolves' score in the opening half. The ball was scooped up by Ratchford and passed out to Riley but the defenders gathered round to wrap him up and the set closed with a penalty to Hull for incorrect play the ball with less than a minute to the break. Half Time: 10-8
Hull conceded a penalty for offside three minutes into the second half giving the Wolves a chance to attack from 40 metres out. Waterhouse got close but the decision was referred to the video referee to check if the Hull defence had done enough to hold him up and they had on this occasion; no try.
The Wolves' defence continued to be tested as Hull battered the line looking to break through and secure another try. This came on 49 minutes when Heremaia followed up a well-weighted kick to ground the ball under the posts; an easy conversion for Tickle extended the lead to 16-8.
The Wolves faced a wall of Black and White in every play and were kept back in the early second half sets. Errors crept in for the Wolves in crucial positions as they gave up possession in back-to-back sets gifting Hull chances to extend their lead putting pressure on the defensive line.
On the 60-minute mark the score stood at 16-8 and the Wolves were in need of a score to lift their spirits and get back into the game.
On 67 minutes Joel Monaghan picked up pace down the wing and an inside pass to Westwood looked to have set up space for the Wolves to score; but a low pass to Higham was fumbled and Hull were given head and feed in the scrum. Play then switched ends and Hull were in the driving seat once more giving the Wolves a lot of distance to make up.
Back-to-back penalties close to the line gave Wolves hope and quick hands to the left looked to have put Riley over in the corner but the Hull tacklers were out in force and forced him to lose it over the line. Less that 10 minutes remained on the clock and eight points the difference.
75 minutes in and Riley collected a loose pass to run over 60 metres. Quick hands out to the left saw space open up and Currie flew over for try. Hodgson couldn't add the extras but Wolves had nudged nearer at 16-12 with less than five minutes on the clock. It was nail-biting stuff.
Wolves picked up some pace fighting to get another score but the clock caught up with them and despite penalties just metres out, space to break through couldn't be found and the game finished at 16-12.
Wolves' head of coaching and rugby Tony Smith said: "I really enjoyed our start but I thought even the start of the match sent us some messages on how to play but we lost our way on that and started to change a little bit from our plan. Then the errors crept in and Hull got their tails up and they were very determined after that. They made plenty of errors as well almost inviting us back in but we didn't take the invitation. They deserved to win, I thought, they were a little hungrier in defence and found that little bit of energy they needed to win and we were on the back foot way too much.
"We had a chance to steal it and it would have been a steal. But I don't think we deserved it really; I would have loved it in terms of character and I think my boys showed the sort of character they've got as they were desperately trying to come up with plays to steal the game; whilst they've got that I'll always be proud of them they were never going to fold over. It was a case of trying too hard at times and in situations where they were trying to force things rather than have a bit of steadiness.
"We've got to lick our wounds. We've got to suffer that defeat and how it feels; that can be the inspiration sometimes that makes you better next time... We will hopefully handle it with dignity; we try to win with dignity and try to lose with our dignity as well."
Shannon McDonnell, Tom Lineham, Joe Arundel, Kirk Yeaman, Tom Briscoe, Daniel Holdsworth, Jacob Miller, Liam Watts, Danny Houghton, Mark O'Meley, Gareth Ellis, Danny Tickle, Joe Westerman
Subs: Andy Lynch, Jay Pitts, Richard Whiting, Aaron Heremaia
Tries: Lineham, Whiting, Heremaia
Goals: Tickle (2)
Brett Hodgson, Chris Riley, Simon Grix, Chris Bridge, Joel Monaghan, Lee Briers, Stefan Ratchford, Paul Wood, Micky Higham, Chris Hill, Trent Waterhouse, Ben Westwood, Mike Cooper
Subs: Adrian Morley, Michael Monaghan, Garreth Carvell, Ben Currie
Tries: J Monaghan, Waterhouse, Currie
Game photo gallery below - courtesy of Bob Brough
28, Jul, 2013