IF WAKEFIELD Trinity could choose a team to play in a must-win game it would not be Hull.
But Trinity ended their three-year hoodoo in spectacular, record-breaking style to secure qualification to the Super 8s for a third successive season and all-but extinguish the East Yorkshire side’s top four hopes.
Wakefield went into the game needing a win to end fears of being dragged into the Qualifiers and send Leeds Rhinos into the middle-eights instead.
Hull had won the previous eight meetings between the teams and with Fetuli Talanoa, Marc Sneyd, Joe Westerman and Jamie Shaul back in the 17 – the latter three at short notice – had high hopes of maintaining the pressure on fourth-placed Castleford Tigers.
But Trinity came good when it really mattered, producing a blistering, 12-try performance and their highest Super League score.
The success equalled their best winning margin and was the most points Hull have conceded in the competition.
It was hard to tell afterwards which coach was the most surprised. Wakefield’s Chris Chester insisted he had been confident his men would get the job done, but admitted: “I didn’t expect that scoreline.”
Chester said: “It was a polished display, we were good defensively and did a lot of special things with the ball.
“I can’t think of anybody who didn’t contribute.
“Everybody was fantastic; the pack were strong, Milky and Rocky [half-backs Jacob Miller and Ryan Hampshire] combined really well and Reece Lyne looked like a future international.”
I will take full responsibility. I rolled the dice with four, maybe five players in terms of fitness, but you could see they weren’t quite ready to come back and compete at that level.Hull FC coach, Lee Radford
Shell-shocked Hull coach Lee Radford made no attempt to hide his dismay.
“What could have gone wrong did go wrong and what we asked for, we got the opposite,” reflected Radford.
“I will take full responsibility. I rolled the dice with four, maybe five players in terms of fitness, but you could see they weren’t quite ready to come back and compete at that level.”
Compete was one thing Hull failed to do at any stage of a totally one-sided encounter. They made a steady stream of errors and Trinity were ruthless in taking advantage. It was 38-0 at the interval and Wakefield ran in six tries in each half, going from 20-0 ahead to 54-0 in a 16-minute spell either side of the break.
Trinity initially thought it was going to be tight, Hampshire booting a penalty goal when Hull were penalised in possession in front of their own posts after just four minutes. The half-back had an outstanding game and missed with just one of his 13 place kicks.
Tom Johnstone celebrated his new four-year contract by strolling over from Max Jowitt’s cut-out pass after 12 minutes and David Fifita rampaged clear for a remarkable try five minutes later.
Miller twisted over early in the second quarter, but Pauli Pauli’s close-range try five minutes before half-time fully opened the floodgates.
Hull tried a short restart, knocked on – inevitably – and were then penalised and marched 10 metres for dissent, paving the way for Lyne to exploit some weak defence.
As the hooter sounded Lyne shrugged off more disinterested attempted tackles and offloaded to James Batchelor for the sixth try and there was no slacking off from Trinity after the break.
Ben Jones-Bishop pounced on an error and raced clear from deep inside his own half, a brilliant Hampshire offload was finished by Jowitt, Miller hacked on twice and went over following yet another knock-on and then Lyne added his second.
Jones-Bishop turned a kick by Hampshire into a try and Pauli went over for his second with 15 minutes still to play, but that ended Trinity’s scoring.
Substitute Liam Harris was perhaps the only Hull player who could hold his head up after the game. He got them off the mark with a well-taken try, which Bureta Faraimo converted, before the winger touched down for the game’s final score soon afterwards.
Radford believes his side’s semi-final hopes are now over. He said: “That puts us seven points behind [fourth-placed Castleford Tigers] in the league table.
“Realistically with points difference that’s an unbelievable challenge.”
Trinity were bottom of the table when Chester took charge at Easter, 2016. He has never failed to guide them into the top eight and now has set his sights on catching Hull to match last year’s fifth place.
“The pressure has been ridiculous,” admitted Chester.
“It has been a really tough couple of weeks with Catalans and Huddersfield doing what they are doing and Leeds getting a win on Friday put the pressure on, but we’ve handled it really well.”
Wakefield Trinity: Jowitt, Jones-Bishop, Lyne, Tupou, Johnstone, Miller, Hampshire, Hirst, Randell, Fifita, Ashurst, Batchelor, Horo. Substitutes: Wood, Pauli, Huby, Arona.
Hull FC: Shaul, Fararaimo, Logan, Tuimavave, Talanoa, Abdull, Sneyd, Matongo, Houghton, Taylor, Hadley, Turgut, Westerman. Substitutes: Paea, Downs, Fash, Harris.
Referee: B Thaler (Wakefield).