Hull coach Lee Radford hailed the performance of skipper Gareth Ellis after he defied injury to lead his side to a 31-24 win over Wakefield that lifted them into the top eight of the First Utility Super League.
The former England forward had been ruled out with knee and ankle injuries sustained in his side’s 26-16 defeat by the Wildcats five days earlier but put his hand up to play and helped create two of their tries with superb passes out of the tackle.
“I got a text off him in the week saying ‘I want to do a fitness test so don’t rule me out’,” said Radford.
“To put that show on sums up what he’s done in the game.
“He dropped the ball with his first touch and he said to the boys it was the best thing that could have happened because he was going to kill it for the next 79 minutes.”
Hull, who had lost their four previous league and cup matches, could never relax against spirited opponents and Radford admitted it was with a sense of relief that he greeted the final whistle.
“I’m very relieved,” he said. “It’s been a tough time.
“The manner of it wasn’t great but it’s a win and we can build on that.”
Wakefield took the lead with tries from Matty Ashurst and Jordan Tansey, his half-back partner Jacob Miller kicking the first of his four goals plus a penalty.
Hull were level at 14-14 with tries from Joe Westerman, Jack Logan and Steve Michaels, before Marc Sneyd’s penalty edged them in front.
It was 22-14 after Logan’s second try for Hull, before Jordan Rankin crossed.
But each time Wakefield responded with sublime tries of their own via Reece Lyne and Johnstone.
The decisive moment came on the hour when Johnstone raced upfield after collecting a towering kick near his own line and only a last-ditch tackle from Rankin denied him a glorious try.
Three minutes later Ellis opened up the Wakefield defence with another magnificent offload and Logan sent Michaels over for his second try, before Sneyd’s late drop goal.
Wakefield coach Brian Smith, who introduced nine new faces from the team that won the first encounter between the teams only five days earlier, said his hand was forced by injury.
“Only two of them were not injured, everyone else was busted,” said Smith. “I didn’t get to rest the ones I wanted to.”
“Six or seven of them were playing their first games for a long time, including Anthony Walker, who was playing for the first time since having a knee reconstruction and he did pretty well on his debut,” said Smith.
“We didn’t get a lot of team work or precision but it would have been ridiculous to expect that, most of them not having played together before.”
Hull FC: Rankin, Lineham, Talanoa, Logan, Michaels, Pryce, Sneyd, Paea, Houghton, Watts, Ellis, Sa, Westerman. Substitutes: Green, Paleaaesina, Bowden, Thompson.
Wakefield: Jowitt, Johnstone, Arundel, Lyne, Riley, Tansey, Miller, Kavanagh, Howarth, Walker, Ryan, Ashurst, Sio. Substitutes: Crowther, McShane, Lauitiiti, D. Smith.
Referee: C Leatherbarrow (RFL).