IT WILL never be the prettiest try he scores but, on a grim afternoon like this, it mattered little as debutant Jake Connor pounced to salvage a win for desperate Hull FC in their Super League opener.
The utility-back, signed from Huddersfield Giants, came off the bench to cross in the 68th minute after Wakefield Trinity’s Ben Jones-Bishop spilled Marc Sneyd’s crossfield kick.
Earlier, Connor’s former Huddersfield team-mate Scott Grix thought he had done enough to win it for Trinity on his own bow.
The Ireland full-back, at Wakefield for a second spell, grubbered over in the 44th minute for Sam Williams to give Chris Chester’s side a slender 8-6 advantage in filthy conditions.
Even after Hull hit back, Grix also then had a glorious chance to snatch victory with just 30 seconds remaining but Fetuli Talanoa crucially raced back to clear dead a loose ball behind the Hull line just as he closed in.
Airlie Birds head coach Lee Radford said: “We had these conditions earlier this week in Hull – well, all year! – so we’d pre-run how we wanted to play it.
“We said we’d be scoring from kicks and to take our chances from penalties so for them to listen to that and not chase the game was good.
“If they listen to the coach like that all year I’ll be a happy man.
“It’s a good start to carry on from where we left off last year.
“All 17 deserve a pat on the back for the way they played today.”
Played mainly in pouring rain, the dogged, dour contest proved a real battle of wills with both sides simply doing their utmost to control the ball.
Defeat was tough on Wakefield, though, whose pack produced a commendable effort given they lost prop Anthony England inside just two minutes following a concussion.
Matty Ashurst, too, went off in the second period after a challenge which Chester felt should have warranted a penalty. Instead, in a major turning point, Hull moved up the other end for that decisive moment.
Chester handed debuts to four new signings with half-back Sam Williams, prop Craig Huby and Grix all starting, Kyle Wood entering from the bench.
Radford, meanwhile, saw Josh Griffin and Albert Kelly feature as well as Connor.
His Challenge Cup holders held a narrow 6-2 interval advantage having opted to go for two point wherever possible right from the off.
Sneyd slotted his first penalty from close in after just seven minutes.
It was clear his side were expecting a slog in the wretched conditions and, to prove the point, the half-back added his second on 16 minutes when ordinarily FC would have tested Trinity’s defence instead.
Scoring opportunities with ball in hand were few and far between.
Jamie Shaul did provide a fine pass to give Griffin some space but after the former Salford centre, who started his career at Belle Vue, found Talanoa, Trinity full-back comfortably got across to snuff out the threat.
The hosts had been limited to an earlier effort from Jacob Miller, the sprightly Australian who almost latched onto half-back partner Williams’s inviting grubber between the posts.
They continued to harm themselves, though, with too much spilled ball and ill-discipline, gifting Sneyd his third penalty in the 21st minute.
Admittedly, Liam Finn’s fired re-start did find touch to earn Chester’s side a 10m scrum and, from there, they earned a penalty for Williams to convert.
However, when Shaul dropped a towering kick near his own line, the hosts failed to capitalise by coughing up possession themselves again.
Tom Johnstone heaped pressure on his side by traversing across field and passing into touch when trying to find Reece Lyne although, to their credit, his side defended the subsequent set well, Jones-Bishop forcing Talanoa into touch.
Grix’s converted try put Wakefield ahead and Hull looked devoid of ideas. Sneyd tried to get his side on the front foot with a much-needed 40/20 but again there was no finish.
They managed to force three goalline drop-outs but, frustratingly, not once were they able to convert any of them into points.
However, after Kelly had one effort ruled out, they finally clawed their way home when Jones-Bishop crucially erred.
Wakefield Trinity: Grix; Jones-Bishop, Lyne, Tupou, Johnstone; Miller, Williams, England, Finn, Huby, Ashurst, Kirmond, Sio. Substitutes: Wood, Arona, Fifita, Walker.
Hull: Shaul; Fonua, Tuimavave, Griffin, Talanoa; Kelly, Sneyd; Taylor, Houghton, Watts, Manu, Minichiello, Ellis. Substitutes: Connor, Green, Thompson, Washbrook.
Referee: C Campbell (Widnes).