Warrington coach Tony Smith hailed his side’s defensive efforts as they held off a spirited Hull to extend their First Utility Super League winning run to eight matches with a 24-18 victory at the KC Stadium.
The Wolves have not lost at the KC Stadium since 2007 but they were pushed all the way by the Black and Whites, for whom 17-year-old winger Callum Lancaster scored his second hat-trick in four Super League appearances.
“I thought we were terrific,” Smith said. “Hull had a right dig and the conditions and the environment and a hostile crowd made it a tough old game but I thought my players handled it well.
“They gave us nothing in the first half - I think their first error was 55 minutes into the game - but I didn’t think they troubled us defensively. I thought our defence in the first half was awesome, as good as I’ve seen this year probably.
“I was really proud of them in the second half as well.”
Warrington were trailing 8-6 until centre Ryan Atkins collected a grubber kick from Gareth O’Brien to grab a crucial try that put them in front for the first time while Smith also highlighted a 60-metre break by Scotland full-back Matty Russell that carved out a try for Stefan Ratchford.
“What a super try in those conditions,” Smith said. “The balance of that kid and his contribution was enormous and then he comes up with another enormous play to force the ball from Gaz Ellis when it looked for all the money like a try. They were two terrific plays.”
Hull, who were playing in front of their own fans for the first time for two months, missed the chance to make up ground on eighth-placed Widnes but coach Lee Radford was able to take some positives from the defeat.
“It’s frustrating but it was an outstanding performance,” Radford said. “We turn up every week and have a crack but we just don’t have that craft we need to take the points.
“I thought it was a great simulation for a play-off game. We needed to win to push for the eight and we were playing top-four opposition in front of a big crowd and unfortunately we came up just short.”
The highlight for the home side was the contribution of Lancaster, who scored all their tries on his home debut to take his tally to eight in just four matches.
“The kid can finish, there is no doubt about that,” Radford said. “We’re going to work on his back field and his general skill needs improving but he can score.”