Sneyd now aiming to rewrite Wembley history

THE saying goes 'fail to prepare and prepare to fail', something which Hull FC's Marc Sneyd was never going to risk doing as his club strove to reach Wembley.

Hull celebrate their 16-12 victory and a place in the Challenge Cup Final at Wembley.

He was man-of-the-match as the Airlie Birds came out 16-12 victors in Friday’s classic semi-final against Wigan Warriors to set up the showpiece against Warrington Wolves on August 27.

With his teasing kicks, astute passing and general game-management during a frenetic encounter, the scrum-half was a crucial cog in Lee Radford’s side, not least with his faultless goal-kicking.

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Sneyd slotted two penalties but also, crucially, nailed both difficult conversions of, first, Steve Michaels’s try out wide and then Fetuli Talanoa’s as Hull fought from 8-2 down early in the second period.

Clutching a bottle of champagne afterwards, one small reward for his man-of-the-match performance, he insisted he always remained sure of himself – given the preparation he had put in. “We got the benefit of training here (at Doncaster’s Keepmoat Stadium) the day before so I stayed out for half-an-hour extra,” explained the 25-year-old.

“I kicked a few from where I’d not usually kick from, just in practice for playing against Wigan.

“Two points is two points against a side like them at the end of the day.

“We didn’t want the scoreboard to get stale and we took two a couple of times.

“I was confident kicking those conversions and it’s great to know we’re now at Wembley.”

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of their victory was the brilliant defence shown in the final 10 minutes especially as, after Willie Isa’s try had got them in touching distance, Wigan continually pounded their line.

“I thought we were all right,” insisted Sneyd, showing the unwavering belief of the Super League leaders, who remain on course for a potential treble.

“We were really confident with our defence. As long as we didn’t panic and stayed to our systems, we were all right.

“Obviously, when we’re getting peppered that much in a semi-final by a team like Wigan there’s going to be some form of nerves there. If not, you’re probably not human.

“But when we came out the other side of that it just gave us the biggest lift ever. It’s like scoring a try. We were buzzing.

“One of our biggest assets, I think, is how close we are as a team and that showed – how hard we’re willing to work for one another on and off the ball – as we came from behind against a team as good as Wigan.

“You see some little things we’re doing off the ball and other teams just don’t really do that.

“It’s showed this year for us by how well we’re doing.”

A key moment in the contest was when Dom Manfredi, the prolific Wigan winger tipped for England honours this autumn, inexplicably spilled arguably Sneyd’s worst kick of the night to gift Talanoa the decisive score.

“I never thought he’d drop that, not in the slightest,” admitted the former Castleford Tigers half-back, now in his second season at KC Stadium following a £100,000 switch from Salford Red Devils.

“When it came off my boot, it was landing in the in-goal area so all he had to do was catch it and he has a 20m restart.

“He’s probably the last person in the league you want a 20m restart landing to….

“So, the fact he dropped the ball was a bit of a sigh of relief for me and, to obviously score off the back of it... well, that was six points and we’re happy with that.”

As the song goes, and is constantly repeated by Hull KR fans, Hull FC have “never won at Wembley”.

On all eight appearances they have failed to win, losing most painfully against their city rivals in 1980 but, also, on their last outing in 2013 when they were kept pointless by Wigan.

Sneyd could become part of Hull folklore if he can help finally end that wretched record next month – their three Challenge Cup wins have come at Halifax (1914), Leeds (1982, after drawing at Wembley) and Cardiff (2005).

“We’ve not even thought about losing, if I’m honest,” he said, with Castleford arriving at the KC Stadium on Friday for the first of their Super 8s fixtures.

“Every game we go into, we’re massively confident of coming away with two points or, in the cup, a win.

“Warrington are obviously an in-form team and a massive challenge but we’ll go there and be confident again.”

Sneyd will also look to rid some painful personal Challenge Cup final memories; he was “hooked” in the first half by Castleford head coach Daryl Powell as they lost to Leeds Rhinos two years ago.

He recalled: “It was one of those finals I’ve had to forget about.

“It’s pointless pondering on it. Luckily enough, you get another Super League game the week after so you can forget about it pretty quickly

“Hopefully I can go this time and come away with a different medal.”