Jake Connor played his latest starring role as Hull FC twice came from behind to send Widnes into an end-of-season relegation battle.
Connor returned from his brilliant display on England duty against New Zealand in Denver to dig Lee Radford’s side out of a hole midway through the second period and inspire a 31-24 win.
For a time, Widnes, who have now endured 12 consecutive league losses, threatened to extend their stay of execution from the Qualifiers. They recovered from 16-0 and 22-18 down to lead 18-16 and 24-22.
But Connor kicked an equalising penalty, landed a drop goal and kicked a late conversion to finish with 11 points.
It looked like an easy night for fifth-placed Hull when Widnes trailed after just six minutes.
Liam Harris angled a kick to Vikings’ left edge. Patrick Ah Van made a complete hash of his catch and Albert Kelly swooped on the loose ball.
Connor added the first of his five goals to make it 6-0. Hull’s sixth successive win over their hosts looked to be in the bag as they also scored the next two tries through winger Hakim Miloudi and the lively Harris.
Connor booted another conversion and the Black and Whites led 16-0 after 28 minutes.
But the Vikings hit back with 12 points in the last three minutes of the half, with Charly Runciman and Buckley tries, converted by Krisnan Inu. The latter made it 18-16, goaling Sam Wilde’s try.
Centre Carlos Tuimavave sped 80 metres from Connor’s assist to restore Hull’s advantage but Widnes would not go away.
Prop Jay Chapelhow barged over for Vikings’ fourth try and Inu’s latest conversion gave his team a 24-22 advantage.
But thanks to the calm Connor – with a penalty, drop-goal and conversion of Bureta Faraimo’s try – Hull hit back once more to stay on course for a top-four finish.
Hull FC: Shaul, Faraimo, Connor, Tuimavave, Miloudi, Kelly, Harris, Taylor, Houghton, Paea, Manu, Minichiello, Hadley. Substitutes: Washbrook, Fash, Logan, Matongo.
Widnes: Hanbury, Ah Van, Runciman, Inu, Buckley, Mellor, Craven, J. Chapelhow, Heremaia, Dudson, Wilde, Hauraki, Olbison. Substitutes: Gerrard, Whitley, Leuluai, D. Walker.
Referee: Greg Dolan (RFL)