THERE was as much relief as elation in Hull’s camp after they returned to winning ways with a 46-28 success at Wakefield Trinity Wildcats.
Hull’s previous visit to Belle Vue had resulted in one of Wakefield’s three wins against top-flight opposition last year and the home team went into the game having won their previous five.
When they hit back from 24-6 down to lead by two points early in the second half, Wakefield seemed on course to continue their remarkable run under coach Chris Chester.
But then Hull remembered how to tackle and, remarkably, their winning margin was the same advantage they held mid-way through the opening period.
“I am relieved, but really pleased as well,” Hull coach Lee Radford said afterwards.
“Our track record at this club is not good and even when we’ve got results we have scraped them.
“In terms of scale of result, I think it is a huge one for us.
“In terms of performance there were some horrible patches in there, but we got out of the blocks quickly, which is what we said we had to do.”
Fetuli Talanoa scored two tries in both halves for Hull, but Wakefield centre Ashley Gibson was the second player this weekend, after Ryan Brierley for Huddersfield at Wigan, to score a hat-trick in a losing cause.
His first try opened the scoring, the centre slicing through from a pass by young full-back Max Jowitt.
Liam Finn kicked the first of his four conversions, but by the 24th minute Hull led 24-6 and seemed to be in total command.
The visitors welcomed back Jamie Shaul, Leon Pryce and Gareth Ellis to the starting line-up – as well as Mark Minichiello on the bench – and all had an impact.
Ellis kept Scott Moore out with a strong tackle on Hull’s line, was placed on report after a huge collision with Anthony Tupou, who had to leave the action and then got the visitors off the mark with a strong finish from acting-half Danny Houghton’s pass.
With Hull’s big pack getting on the front foot, Pryce and Marc Sneyd troubled Wakefield’s defence with a smart kicking game. Sneyd landed a 40-20 and then his chip to the corner was finished by Talanoa and in the next set Jowitt failed to deal with a high punt from the No 7, under pressure from Frank Pritchard and Josh Bowden went over.
Talanoa’s second try, from Pryce’s pass, after he had combined with Sneyd in front of the Wakefield posts, was Hull’s fourth in 11 minutes, Sneyd converting all of them, but the home team were level before half-time and would have been in front had Finn been able to land a penalty kick after the hooter. Reece Lyne had a strong game until suffering a hamstring tear in the second half.
His quick thinking got Wakefield back into the game. He resisted the temptation to kick on a free play after Ellis had knocked-on, ran towards Hull’s suspect right edge and found Jacob Miller, whose long pass was finished by Tom Johnstone.
That was on 29 minutes. Four later Jowitt broke clear from inside his own half. He was pulled down by Shaul, but Gibson went over on the next play.
And two minutes before the interval the ex-Leeds and Castleford man was in again following good play by Finn and Miller.
Wakefield continued in the ascendancy at the start of the second half and were back in front when Danny Kirmond went over from Miller’s pass.
But Finn’s kick hit a post and Hull responded quickly through Talanoa, following excellent handling by Liam Watts, Scott Taylor, Houghton and Yeaman, who then crossed himself from Shaul’s pass. Two more Sneyd goals made it 36-28 with 24 minutes remaining,
At that stage Wakefield were still in the game, but Hull’s defence tightened and the home side lost their way.
Surprisingly, given what had happened earlier, there was no further scoring for a 19-minute spell, until Talanoa went over for his fourth try from Shaul’s pass to put the result beyond doubt.
Sneyd sent his conversion attempt off target for the first time, but Shaul touched down for the game’s 13th try soon afterwards.
Chester was disappointed with Wakefield’s attacking effort after the interval.
He said: “We lacked any real patience and we tried to force our passes. “We are a team that has got to complete high. It was 93 per cent in the first half and 60 per cent in the second.”
Wakefield Trinity Wildcats: Jowitt, Jones-Bishop, Gibson, Lyne, Johnstone, Miller, Finn, England, Moore, Scruton, A Tupou, Kirmond, Sio. Substitutes: Simon, Ashurst, Molloy, Arona.
Hull: Shaul, Naughton, Fonua, Yeaman, Talanoa, Pryce, Sneyd, Watts, Houghton, Bowden, Manu, Pritchard, Ellis. Substitutes: Minichiello, Green, Washbrook, Taylor.,
Referee: R Silverwood (Mirfield).