WHEN it comes to the business end of the season, winning “ugly” is not a bad trait to possess.
Hull FC’s Mahe Fonua pointed to that fact after his try in Thursday’s error-ridden 18-12 victory at Wakefield Trinity crucially got the treble-chasing East Yorkshire club back to winning ways.
It was a horrible game to watch but, having lost both matches since winning the Challenge Cup at Wembley, it mattered little to Hull who simply needed to find some semblance of momentum once more.
Furthermore, if they had lost three consecutive games, the noises about them lacking the bottle and stamina for a Grand Final bid would have risen from murmurs to deafening sounds.
“A lot of people have been talking about that Challenge Cup hangover and it did take it out of us,” admitted Fonua. “It’s taken us two weeks but we’re back in the winners’ circle at the moment so it’s good to turn things around and 100 per cent we know we needed to.
“We had to hang in there at Wakefield but that’s the story of our season so far really. We’ve managed to win ugly but winning is winning at the end of the day.
“We’ve managed to get two points regardless of how.
“There was some bad conditions on the night but we got the job done in the end.
“It wasn’t a stroll in the park but we got the two points and that’s what we needed going into next week to put our best foot forward for a home semi.
“It just goes to show we can win when not at our best – so I just hope when we do play at 100 per cent we start to roll teams easy.”
They will look to do that when they face leaders Warrington Wolves on Friday in a fitting end to the Super 8s with the League Leaders’ Shield up for grabs to the victor.
Long-time leaders Hull thought they had lost the chance for first place after costly defeats to St Helens and Wigan following Wembley.
However, Wigan did them a favour last night by winning 35-28 at Warrington so FC are now just one point adrift of Tony Smith’s side and they are also confirmed a home semi-final.
A draw would be enough for the Wolves who, of course, squandered a winning position to lose 12-10 to the Black and Whites in that Challenge Cup final just three weeks ago. “They are going to be up for redemption on Friday,” added Fonua, who also scored at Wembley, his current run proffering six tries in the last seven games.
“For them to lose a game they were winning and see us come back with six minutes to go… they will be burning.
“I dare say they are holding on to that and will come and try and do a job on us at our place,” he added.
The destructive Fonua has enjoyed a brilliant debut campaign at the KCOM Stadium following his move from Melbourne Storm and he seems certain to be selected in the Super League Dream Team following his consistently barnstorming displays.
It was one of his trademark breaks that led to the critical 71st minute try to see off a gritty Wakefield on Thursday.
The 23-year-old fed winger Steve Michaels and after his colleague was brought down just short, Fonua cheekily went blind from dummy-half to fool their hosts’ defence.
It was his 15th try in 26 appearances but he explained: “We were just the icing on the cake.
“There was several passes before we even touched the ball.
“We just took the opportunity down that right flank. Me and Stevie have been good this season so I gave it to him and he got me to within half a metre.
“I was going to pass but I just thought I’d take a sneaky one down the short-side.”
Fonua added: “I do feel like I’m finding a bit of form at the moment.
“I’m getting some good comments from my family - well, you always get good comments from those! – that’s a little booster as well.
“It’s good to get that little pat on the back from them and close friends as well. It makes you want to strive that little bit harder.
“I just get my head down and go as hard as I can. It is good to get that ball over the white line but there’s a lot of things done before I even get there.
“It’s always a bonus for me to bag a try but I know that the boys are laying a good foundation for me to do that.”