AS TALES of redemption go, a man-of-the-match performance in the Challenge Cup final is as good as it gets for Marc Sneyd.
The Hull FC scrum-half claimed the Lance Todd Trophy after coming up with a series of telling plays in Saturday’s dramatic 12-10 win over Warrington Wolves.
Just two years earlier, he had experienced completely different emotions having been hauled off in the first half of Castleford Tigers’ defeat to Leeds Rhinos at Wembley.
Some people thought that might have a lasting negative effect on the 25-year-old’s career but, in already being so influential in Hull’s rise to the top of Super League, his efforts at the weekend merely underlined the fact it has done nothing of the sort.
The East Yorkshire club were 10-0 down after an hour and struggling to find a way of breaking down Warrington.
But Sneyd delivered a brilliant 40/20 kick to gain field position and then his perfectly-executed chip released Mahe Fonua for their first try on 62 minutes.
He converted that and kicked to the same player again before following up to take Fonua’s pass and find Jamie Shaul on his side for the try that left him with the match-winning conversion.
As Sneyd explained, that 40/20 was certainly a turning point.
“I’m not normally one who would big-up one of my own kicks,” he said.
“But at the point that ball rolled over the line, you could see a couple of heads drop on the Warrington side and when you see that it lifts your players.
“You feel 10ft tall. You think ‘they’ve gone.’ I think quite a few of our lads sensed that and it gave us a bit of a kick.
“It took a while to get into the game, but we’ve done that many times this season.
“We’re confident we can score points late on and win a game in the 79th minute if we have to.
“We just needed one of the big plays to go our way rather than theirs and that 40/20 did.”
However, Sneyd conceded he felt the crucial play for Shaul’s try might not materialise.
“I caught the ball when I kicked to the corner quite well but I thought I’d overcooked it and it was going to go out on the full,” he said.
“But on second glance, Mahe was still going for it so I thought I’d better move up.
“It came off.”
In the end, Hull were glad Warrington’s former Australia star Kurt Gidley missed a simple 42nd-minute penalty that would have put them 12-0 behind.
Sneyd, who also won man-of-the-match in the semi-final win versus Wigan Warriors, added: “I was surprised he missed. He’s an outstanding goalkicker, so I’m not sure what happened there but I’ll never bag anyone for missing a kick like that.”
And what was it like to be a Challenge Cup winner compared to his previous experience?
“The difference is out of this world,” said Sneyd, who joined in a £100,000 deal from Salford after his loan at Tigers in 2014.
“I’ve just spent 45 minutes celebrating with the fans.
“Two years ago I was in the suites upstairs trying to down a bottle of wine as quickly as possible.
“Lots of people were trying their hardest beforehand to put the pressure on us but the fact I’d played here before helped massively. I felt very relaxed.
“But I was shocked when I heard I’d won Lance Todd. Id’ have chosen Danny Houghton. I’m overwhelmed to get the recognition over guys like him.”