Warrington Wolves 22 Hull FC 22 - Airlie Birds hang on to share spoils after Wolves hit back

Hull FC players look dejected after letting slip their lead to draw the game. Picture: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com
Hull FC players look dejected after letting slip their lead to draw the game. Picture: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com
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HULL FC hung on at the death to avoid defeat after winless Warrington Wolves almost staged a brilliant comeback.

Lee Radford’s side were 20-4 ahead just moments before the break and seemingly in control against bottom-placed opponents who had lost all six Super League games so far.

However, with Matty Russell completing his hat-trick, Warrington fired back into the contest.

With jaded Hull badly tiring and leading by just two, Mike Cooper bulldozed his way over in the 66st minute but crucially bounced the ball as he stretched for the line.

Nevertheless, Kurt Gidley did level with a 71st minute penalty and he had a drop-goal attempt miss narrowly after Stefan Ratchford also saw a one-point effort drop just short.

Hull’s Marc Sneyd will bemoan a missed penalty of his own just before the hour while he was off-cue with a drop goal attempt, too, as his battered side - who struggled to get out of their own half in the second period - strived for the win.

Hull FC's Albert Kelly chases down the ball. Picture: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com

Hull FC's Albert Kelly chases down the ball. Picture: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com

However, a draw was arguably a fitting result in this re-match of last season’s Challenge Cup final which Hull, of course, won.

The last time they met was for the League Leaders’ Shield last autumn when Warrington did prosper but they have endured a horrible start to this season unlike Hull who have lost just once.

Here, the East Yorkshire club - who gave a debut to lively teenage hooker Jez Litten with Man of Steel Danny Houghton injured - led 20-12 at the break although, admittedly, they were handed two of their three tries nicely gift-wrapped.

First, as Warrington were pushing 6-4 behind, Jake Connor intercepted Kevin Brown’s pass on the last tackle to race 90m.

Hull FC's Liam Watts tries to break through the Warrington line. Picture: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com

Hull FC's Liam Watts tries to break through the Warrington line. Picture: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com

Later on, the hosts had another perfect attacking position after a penalty - only for second-row Jack Hughes to try a bizarre pass to Ratchford on the first tackle 20m from FC’s line.

The full-back spilled, Sika Manu gathered up and, moments later, he was somehow in space and Hull full-back Jamie Shaul was on his shoulder to sprint in from 60m for another easy score.

Radford saw his side open the scoring after just nine minutes via Albert Kelly - who else? - as they quickly placed early doubt in Warrington’s already fragile minds.

It was the stand-off’s eight try in five games, the ex-Hull KR star charging through a stranded Kevin Brown from close range after the visitors had spent three successive sets on the Wolves’ line.

Sneyd slotted the first of his five goals and Tony Smith’s side were fortunate not to be reduced to 12 men when full-back Ratchford felled Josh Griffin with a high tackle just as the Hull centre looked certain to score.

FC wasted that chance, Gareth Ellis spilling Sneyd’s short pass, and Wolves, instead, hit back with the first of Matty Russell’s brace in the 14th minute.

His second, after Sneyd had slotted a penalty, came with just 40 seconds of the half remaining and it clearly gave them encouragement as they came out in the second period revitalised.

Unfortunately for Warrington, they failed to score, Liam Watts - on his return from a four-game ban - and Sika Manu doing brilliantly to deny Kevin Brown as he twisted over and then Rhys Evans having an effort ruled out due to Ryan Atkins’ forward pass.

Hull stretched their lead when Sneyd slotted a penalty after a senseless ball-strip following Mark Minichiello’s surging break.

Ex-Castleford Tigers star Daryl Clark did snipe over from dummy-half in the 55th minute for Gidley to see his side trail 22-14.

Sneyd missed another penalty attempt soon after and, as his side started to make continuous errors coming out of their own half, Warrington were invited in.

Mahe Fonua somehow denied Ben Westwood but Manu twice spilled in his own 20m and Josh Bowden also coughed it up.

Russell did complete his hat-trick with a fine finish after another error in the 64th minute for Gidley to get them in touching distance.

And what a finish it was.

Beforehand, there was an impeccably-observed minute’s silence before kick-off after the tragic death of Warrington player Dom Crosby’s baby daughter Ada earlier this week.

Warrington Wolves: Ratchford; Russell, T King, Atkins, Evans; Brown, Gidley; Hill, Clark, Cooper, Westwood, Hughes, Westerman. Substitutes: Sims, Dwyer, G King, Philbin.

Hull FC: Shaul; Fonua, Connor, Griffin, Michaels; Kelly, Sneyd; Taylor, Washbrook, Bowden, Manu, Minichiello, Ellis. Substitutes: Litten, Turgut, Thompson, Watts.

Referee: Jack Hughes (Wigan)