Composed Lee Smith kicked a drop-goal with just 90 seconds remaining last night to secure stunned Wakefield Trinity Wildcats a third successive win and keep their play-off dream alive.
The ex-England centre – out of contract at the end of the season – had also slid over for a crucial try but it was fittingly left to industrious captain Danny Kirmond to come up with the vital last play as former Hull FC coach Richard Agar got his first win back at the KC Stadium.
Wakefield, perhaps typically after such an error-strewn fixture, had inexcusably let the restart bounce into touch following Smith’s kick, gifting desperate Hull one last chance.
However, Kirmond – who played on with a dislocated finger – flung himself at Joe Westerman to charge down the second row’s one-point attempt and seal a remarkable win, heaping yet more misery on the East Yorkshire club.
Abject Hull’s supposed title challenge is fast losing pace with this third successive loss leaving them more in danger of actually slipping out of the top eight than reaching Old Trafford.
Coach Peter Gentle made five changes after defeat at Castleford last week but they had little of the desired effect.
Their luckless centre Ben Crooks, meanwhile, scored a hat-trick for the second week running yet ended up on the losing side again as dire Hull self-imploded.
Smith was able to get into that winning position after home fullback Shannon McDonnell crucially dropped a simple pass from a tap 20-metre restart, the sort of hapless mistake that had haunted the Airlie Birds for much of the evening.
They may, however, point to an incident in the 63rd minute as the true turning point.
Wakefield prop Justin Poore was put on report for an ugly looking alleged spear tackle on McDonnell which could instead quite easily have resulted in a red card.
The Australian went on to play a significant role in the dramatic closing stages as both sides tried their hardest to throw away the game.
The first half ranked as the most error-strewn of the season with each team struggling to complete any basic practices.
Whether it be wayward loose passes, fumbles under no pressure, lazy high tackles or simple tackles missed, they seemed increasingly prone to such painful afflictions.
Trinity full-back Richard Mathers coughed up the ball on his own 20-metre line but at least that came from a heavy hit from Ben Galea; there was hardly any impact when Peter Fox did the same when coming away from his own whitewash.
For once, that mistake was quickly snapped up by Hull with Danny Houghton edging across field before finding Jacob Miller whose long pass put Tom Lineham over for the winger’s 19th try of the season.
Stand-off Daniel Holdsworth, who later limped off with a calf injury which could be serious, was unable to convert the 24th minute score leaving it at 10-10 but Trinity went in front after capitalising on more Hull ill-discipline.
Andy Lynch was penalised for lying on but still, from that position, there was no excuse for the awful line defence which allowed Oliver Wilkes to surge on to Paul Aiton’s flat pass almost untouched at the side of the posts.
Lee Smith converted having done likewise when Fox had crossed in the 11th minute, the ex-Hull KR winger finishing off a rare move of clarity when Tim Smith’s guile allowed Dean Collis to produce a trademark flip pass.
Hull had opened the scoring when Holdsworth’s sharp pass on the last tackle found in form Crooks – who scored four at Castleford – angling back to the line.
The creator converted but Hull were splintered when Paul Sykes’s fine cut-out pass saw Lee Smith break through Miller’s poor tackle attempt and then pass back inside to try scorer Sykes.
Crooks drew Hull level though with a quality try in the 47th minute, brilliantly picking up a Tim Smith grubber just inches from his own line and then racing 100 metres to score, Kirmond valiantly chasing down the hopeless cause all the way.
Danny Tickle converted and did so again when Crooks scored his controversial hat-trick try just before the hour, Gareth Ellis having seemingly knocked on in the build-up which was overlooked by video referee Ben Thaler.
Lee Smith hit back with his try but could not convert meaning Wakefield still trailed by two.
However, prop Kyle Amor, who looked like he would be carried off moments early with a knee injury, returned to make a brilliant 40-metre charge down the middle.
Aiton supported and though he was eventually brought down, Tim Smith showed great vision to send a perfect cross field kick for Fox to rise high and collect his second.
Lee Smith converted to make it 26-22 to the visitors but then Fox and a raft of Wakefield players unexplainedly let Millers hanging kick bounce not once but twice on their own 20-metre line.
Ellis accepted the gift while everyone dallied and immediately found Kirk Yeaman – recalled after being dropped last week – who dashed into the corner to level.
Tickle missed the kick but Hull had a further chance, Trinity prop Andy Raleigh charging down Miller’s drop-goal effort on halfway. Then came McDonnell’s moment of madness.
Hull: McDonnell, Lineham, Crooks, Yeaman, T. Briscoe, Holdsworth, Miller, Watts, Houghton, O’Meley, Ellis, Westerman, Galea. Substitutes: Lynch, Tickle, Johnson, Heremaia.
Wakefield: Mathers, Fox, Collis, L. Smith, Cockayne, Sykes, T. Smith, Poore, Aiton, Amor, Mariano, Kirmond, Washbrook. Substitutes: Raleigh, Lauitiiti, Wood, Wilkes.
Referee: Tim Roby (RFL).