Hull FC 12-10 Warrington: Hull strike back to lift 2016 Challenge Cup

Hull FC celebrate winning the Challenge Cup
Hull FC celebrate winning the Challenge Cup
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HULL. Have. Won. At. Wembley.

Five little words that mean so, so much to the Airlie Birds.

For the first time in their 151 year history, and ninth attempt at trying, Hull FC at last completed the mission today as they finally lifted the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup in the famous stadium.

Of course, they had to make their masses of fans sweat for it, trailing 10-0 against Warrington Wolves on the hour mark, before finally coming to life with a dramatic finish.

And what a finish. Lance Todd Trophy winner Marc Sneyd proved the difference, his kicking creating both tries, firstly for Mahe Fonua in the 63rd minute and then, crucially, once more for homegrown Jamie Shaul seven minutes from time.

The scrum-half, who endured a miserable afternoon here two years ago with Castleford Tigers, improved both, to edge Lee Radford’s side home.

Mahe Fonua (left) celebrates after scoring a try during the Challenge Cup Final match at Wembley Stadium (PA)

Mahe Fonua (left) celebrates after scoring a try during the Challenge Cup Final match at Wembley Stadium (PA)

That said, Danny Houghton, the Hull-born hooker, was the hero at the death, producing a truly remarkable tackle to deny Ben Currie, who lost the ball just as the Warrington second-row seemed certain to score with barley 90 seconds remaining. It will go down in Wembley folklore.

Super League leaders Hull, winning the cup for only the fourth time in their history, will now look to go on and complete the treble but it was heartache for Warrington, especially their Australian stand-off Kurt Gidley.

He missed a simple penalty in the 42nd minute that had echoes of Don Fox - especially as it ended up being the difference.

Warrington led 6-0 at the interval following a tight and tense first period.

Mahe Fonua passes the ball under pressure from Warrington Wolves' Ben Currie and Kurt Gidley (right) (PA)

Mahe Fonua passes the ball under pressure from Warrington Wolves' Ben Currie and Kurt Gidley (right) (PA)

Indeed, defences were so on top that it looked like being a scoreless half until Matty Russell finally broke the deadlock on 34 minutes.

Unsurprisingly, it came via an intercept, Chris Sandow snaffling Frank Pritchard’s poor pass to almost race in from halfway.

A remarkable effort from Shaul - the full-back somehow made up 20m on the little Australian - denied him but, at the next play, Russell shrugged off Fonua to go over.

Stefan Ratchford converted and Warrington, who had grown into the half, finished strongest with Toby King also threatening the Hull line.

Captain Greg Ellis wears the Challenge Cup as a hat (PA)

Captain Greg Ellis wears the Challenge Cup as a hat (PA)

Sandow had been influential, the scrum-half kicking well with one impressive 40/20, while Daryl Clark, the former Castleford hooker, proved dangerous out of dummy-half.

Hull - who had not conceded a point in their last two Super League outings - generally defended well and denied Ryan Atkins when the ex-England centre thought he was muscling over.

Radford’s side, however, had few attacking chances as they were kept well in check by Warrington, who moved up well on the edges to limit the impact of both Mark Minichiello and Sika Manu.

Kirk Yeaman, the only survivor of Hull’s side when they won the Cup in 2005, made one midfield break but Clark hauled him down before the centre could really escape.

Warrington loose forward Joe Westerman endured a nervy start against his former club with a forward pass in the opening set and then a soft fumble to gift Hull some early ball but they could not capitalise.

Hull were let off the hook at the start of the second period when Gidley was off target with that kick.

Hull fan Lee Catchpole on Wembley Way (Photo: Jonathan Gawthorpe)

Hull fan Lee Catchpole on Wembley Way (Photo: Jonathan Gawthorpe)

They still panicked, though, at times with blockbusting centre Fonua, of all people, kicking on the third tackle after they had forced a drop-out and then Manu spilling in the first tackle from a scrum.

That thwarted initial hopes of progress and, instead, Warrington - far slicker with the ball in hand - imposed themselves further.

Currie cut a lovely inside line to break and kick ahead, Fetuli Talanoa having to rescue the situation, and then Atkins stormed over but was held up.

Warrington were not denied, though, when Currie scored in the 54th minute, the second-row showing fine pace to beat off Shaul in a race to the corner after a stunning, arcing break from Clark.

Gidley, crucially, missed the conversion attempt and was lucky not to be penalised for what looked like a shoulder charge to bring Michaels to the ground after the Australian winger had, for the umpteenth time, brilliantly taken another high kick.

But Gidley departed soon after with a nasty head wound - and that coincided with Hull’s rally.

Sneyd produced a brilliant 40/20 and, after Scott Taylor had powered close, his chip to the corner was taken by Fonua who leapt above a grounded Sandow to score.

Sneyd converted and his kick almost created another for Michaels but Ratchford just got across in time.

However, he worked a similar move as Hull pressed further, Fonua this time palming down his half-back’s kick, Sneyd regathering before holding his nerve to find Shaul with the final pass in front of FC’s delirious fans.

Then it was a case of denying everything Warrington threw at them.

Westerman broke clear but ran out of support before Currie looked certain to break Hull hearts again with his second.

However, Houghton, a loser with Hull in 2008 and 2013, arrived just in time with that tackle.

Hull FC: Shaul; Michaels, Fonua, Yeaman, Talanoa; Tuimavave, Sneyd; Watts, Houghton, Taylor, Manu, Minichiello, Ellis. Substitutes: Washbrook, Pritchard, Green, Bowden.

Warrington Wolves: Ratchford; Russell, T King, Atkins, R Evans; Gidley, Sandow; Hill, Clark, Sims, Currie, Hughes, Westerman. Substitutes: Dwyer, Westwood, Bailey, G King.

Referee: Gareth Hewer (Whitehaven)

Hull fans before the final at Wembley

Hull fans before the final at Wembley