Hull FC 6 Warrington 7: Radford finds positives as Hull narrowly lose out

Joe Westerman.
Joe Westerman.
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Hull FC lost a tight contest at the KC Stadium as Warrington recorded back-to-back wins to start the season.

The Wolves beat Salford in round one and made it two from two as they burst the bubble of Hull, who were on a high from their shock win at Huddersfield last Sunday.

The visitors did it thanks to a moment of magic from Man of Steel Daryl Clark which set them on their way to a lead they would not relinquish, although there was plenty for Hull to be positive about too with this another performance to silence their pre-season critics.

Warrington’s cause was not helped by the eighth-minute loss of full-back Stefan Ratchford to an injury picked up inside 60 seconds, and they had a lot of early defending to do in his absence.

Debutant Steve Michaels forced a drop-out while Marc Sneyd also tested their resolve with some short kicks, but the Wolves stood their ground.

Hull continued to impose themselves, dominating the ball and restricting Warrington to hopeful punts ahead, although the game clicked into its second quarter without a point on the board.

Twenty-five minutes was enough for Warrington, though, as Clark fired them into life. As he did so often during his Castleford days, the hooker had both the vision and the legs to break through a gap from 30 yards and dot down.

Hull tried to reply and Sneyd’s banana kick to the open right wing nearly laid on a response for Tom Lineham, but they wrote off two good opportunities close to the line and were made to pay when Gareth O’Brien landed a drop goal on the half-time hooter for a 7-0 lead.

The second half started like the first with Hull busy close to Warrington’s line, while they also lost their full-back, Jamie Shaul, to injury. Lineham nearly scored, though, being stopped an inch short of the line. He may not have scored but he saved four points at the other end not long after. Ryan Atkins had a walk to the line after Kevin Penny’s break but the winger somehow found a way to get back and shut off Atkins.

It took some fine defence on the other wing to hold up Joel Monaghan too as Warrington sensed a clincher, and Michaels had to be alert to stop a breaking Richie Myler getting it.

Hull’s defensive resolve paid off too as, with 15 to go, Lineham got his score, rolling over the line after Sneyd chipped to find him in the corner. Sneyd brilliantly landed the touchline goal to take Hull to within a point.

The home side’s momentum was stunted when they were unexpectedly forced to drop out with 10 to go, though they did work themselves into a good enough position for Sneyd to make a hash of a drop goal of his own. That proved to be their last chance and Warrington hung on.

“I’m encouraged for sure as if you’re going to lose, that’s how to lose,” said Hull coach Lee Radford. “It’s one of the worst build-ups I’ve had as we’ve been pulled to pieces with injury and sickness. We chased the game, some of the stuff didn’t come off but that’s the way to do it. I thought all the players were really admirable.

“We were coming off a four-day turnaround. I was really pleased we had some squad players come in and show they can be relied on.”

Hull: Shaul, Lineham, Whiting, Yeaman, Michaels, Pryce, Sneyd, Paea, Houghton, Watts, Hadley, Minichiello, Westerman. Substitutes: Green, Bowden, Thompson, Cunningham.

Warrington: Ratchford, R. Evans, Atkins, Monaghan, Penny, O’Brien, Myler, Hill, Clark, Sims, Currie, Laithwaite, Westwood. Substitutes: Higham, Harrison, B. Evans, Wheeler.

Referee: Phil Bentham (RFL).