WORLD CUP finalist Kevin Locke made an instant impact for Wakefield Trinity Wildcats last night, helping inspire Super League’s bottom club to their first win since February.
Wakefield’s 26-16 victory ended a run of 16 successive losses in the competition, but it was a bitter blow to Hull, who seemed to be heading for the top-eight when they led 16-0 after 20 minutes.
Wakefield coach Brian Smith said: “There was a lot of relief in the dressing room and there’s been a lot of effort gone into it.
“They had to do it the hardest way. What I thought at 16-0 down though isn’t printable.”
Locke, one of three debutants in Wakefield’s 17, had not played since Salford’s loss at Hull exactly two months earlier and he struggled with the pace of the game in the early exchanges.
But, despite not looking fully fit, he grew in confidence and had a major role in Wakefield’s fightback. producing a magnificent tackle to keep Hull full-back Jamie Shaul out in the first half and then creating a touchdown for Richard Owen, before setting up field position for the try which levelled the scores.
Michael Sio, who flew in from Australia last week, made a solid contribution off the bench and half-backs Pita Godinet and Jacob Miller were also heavily involved for the home team.
It was a satisfying evening for Miller, who came in at late notice after Tim Smith was ruled out due to a knee problem.
Miller, released by Hull in the off-season, scored Wakefield’s first try and kicked five goals from six attempts.
Nick Scruton, another of seven former Hull players in the Wakefield ranks, had a strong game in the pack, but Hull will reflect on one that got away.
They made a strong start and dominated the opening half an hour, but the turning point came when Paul McShane, the Wakefield hooker, held Setaimata Sa up over the line to prevent a fourth try.
Wakefield, who made numerous errors early on, began to look after the ball following that incident, sapping Hull’s energy.
Hull were backing up from a draining Challenge Cup quarter-final against Leeds five days earlier and they wilted in the heat, running out of steam and finishing well-beaten.
That did not look likely as they overran Wakefield early on. Hull made the perfect start when Kirk Yeaman accepted Jordan Abdull’s pass and sliced through some poor home defence after just two minutes.
Then Ian Kirke lost the ball from a scrum inside the hosts’ half, Wakefield were penalised and from that Liam Watts powered over from Joe Westerman’s pass after Abdull had also handled.
Two conversions from Jordan Rankin made it 12-0 after just seven minutes.
Locke showed his class with an outstanding tackle on Shaul, after Rankin had split the defence, but he was immediately penalised and Wakefield cracked moments later, on 18 minutes, when Rankin stretched over from close range off Danny Houghton’s pass.
Wakefield did not mount a serious attack until 33 minutes, following back-to-back penalties, but they made it tell thanks to some opportunism by Miller in front of the Hull posts, the half-back running across the line and then cutting through for a well-taken try which he also converted.
Five minutes into the second half Wakefield cut the gap to only four points when Owen crossed from Locke’s excellent pass and Miller added a touchline conversion.
Nine minutes after that Locke intercepted Curtis Naughton’s pass deep in Wakefield’s territory. He didn’t have the legs to go all the way and there was no support, but he held on to the ball and in the resulting set Joe Arundel touched down to level the scores from a pass by Godinet.
Miller could not add the extras, but he did kick the home team in front with 20 minutes left. Initially, a tackle involving Watts and Mickey Paea, which resulted in Danny Washbrook going off, was placed on report and penalised.
On the next play, Watts went high on Reece Lyne and Miller took the two points to edge Wakefield in front.
With 11 minutes left, Sa was penalised for a foul on Locke and Godinet’s pass put Matt Ryan over. Miller converted and made the points safe with a penalty goal three minutes from time.
Hull boss Lee Radford said: “I’m hugely deflated. After that 15 minute burst we couldn’t get any momentum, we didn’t give ourselves chance to get any.
“It’s not good enough. We needed momentum and it was going to take a special effort, but we couldn’t do it. It had been massively highlighted how difficult it was going to be here. I thought that if we were going to get a result, we’d scrape it.”
Wakefield Trinity Wildcats: Locke, Owen, Arundel, Lyne, Tansey, Godinet, Miller, Scruton, McShane, Simon, Ryan, Kirke, Molloy. Substitutes: Washbrook, Annakin, Kavanagh, Sio.
Hull FC: Shaul, Naughton, Talanoa, Yeaman, Michaels, Abdull, Rankin, Paea, Houghton, Watts, Ellis, Sa, Westerman. Substitutes: Hadley, Bowden, Thompson, Green.
Referee: J Cobb (Leigh).