Warrington Wolves 14 Hull FC 27: Stirring Hull produce shock win

Can Hull FC really make it all the way back to their KCOM Stadium home for a Betfred Super League Grand Final?

On this sort of stellar form, the answer is a resounding ‘yes’.

Andy Last’s side - who have sneaked into the extended play-offs in sixth place - produced a truly ruthless display tonight to end star-studded Warrington Wolves’ hopes of a first title since 1955 for yet another year.

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Hull were an 18/1 title shot before kick-off but, with Marc Sneyd and Jake Connor steering them to a famous win, they face a semi-final at Wigan Warriors next Thursday for a place at the Grand Final in a fortnight’s time.

They are peaking at just the right time, this being a fifth win in six games, and it was everything Super League had hoped for; an intense, absorbing and highly-entertaining game which, in many ways, vindicated their decision to end the regular campaign early and extend the play-offs from top-four to top-six.

Hull stepped up to deliver a performance worthy of such an occasion; there was no flakiness here, illustrated perfectly by Carlos Tuimavave, the Kiwi centre deputising at stand-off, who was in agony after hyper-extending his elbow in the fourth minute yet played on throughout with a highly involved display.

When Connor pulled off his third assist of the night, slipping Chris Satae through for the big forward to stretch over one-handed, Sneyd’s conversion made it 19-8 after 43 minutes.

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The way Hull charged back from the restart, Satae and Ligi Sao powering them forward and their pack similarly pumped in defence, they looked like a team that knew victory was in their grasp.

Hull FC's Chris Satae scores against Warrington Wolves (PIC: JONATHAN GAWTHORPE)Hull FC's Chris Satae scores against Warrington Wolves (PIC: JONATHAN GAWTHORPE)
Hull FC's Chris Satae scores against Warrington Wolves (PIC: JONATHAN GAWTHORPE)

However, it would not be so simple; Warrington found another level, too, and spent most of the rest of the half camped near Hull’s line.

Last’s side had barely put a foot wrong in the first period but now they fumbled three times coming out of their own 20.

But it says so much about the new-found resilience in the Airlie Birds’ defence that they were only breached once more when Blake Austin’s cut-out pass saw Matty Ashton cross in the 52nd minute.

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Stefan Ratchford converted from wide out - he missed his other two attempts - to leave them trailing 19-14 but, although Josh Charnley rightly had a score disallowed, Hull refused to cede.

Hull's Buerta Farimo scores (JONATHAN GAWTHORPE)Hull's Buerta Farimo scores (JONATHAN GAWTHORPE)
Hull's Buerta Farimo scores (JONATHAN GAWTHORPE)

Instead, Sneyd - ever the master tactician - hoisted a high kick downfield that saw Ratchford defuse but then be driven back behind his own line by the relentless Josh Griffin and Bureta Faraimo.

It was just the release their side needed and, at the same time, Wolves heads dropped.

Warrington prop Chris Hill caught Scott Taylor high and Sneyd converted the 69th minute penalty before lofting another kick that had Ben Currie panicking behind his own line to gift Connor a try at the death.

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Sneyd did the rest as Last, his coaching staff and the Hull board of directors celebrated wildly in the stands.

Hull FC's Joe Cator celebrates his first try for the club  (PIC: JONATHAN GAWTHORPE)Hull FC's Joe Cator celebrates his first try for the club  (PIC: JONATHAN GAWTHORPE)
Hull FC's Joe Cator celebrates his first try for the club (PIC: JONATHAN GAWTHORPE)

In the first half, they also had to defend for large periods but did so efficiently and effectively, third-placed Warrington - for all their poise and purpose - rarely finding many chinks wherever they looked.

Admittedly, the hosts thought they had crossed early on when Hull’s Sneyd seemed to rip possession from Jack Hughes as he crossed the line - Ratchford touching down - but Liam Moore deemed ‘no try’ and the video referee did not over-rule.

Ashton was put away clear down the left but, once he was caught, flung the ball away to no one in particular and FC survived once more.

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Such was that early pressure that Last’s side did not manage a play-the-ball in Warrington’s 20m until as late as the 15th minute.

That came from the rarest of sights - England full-back Ratchford spilling a kick - and, though Mahe Fonua was initially held up, Hull did soon make the first incision.

Granted, Ratu Naulago was perhaps fortunate to be awarded a penalty when he looked to have simply lost possession playing the ball but his side did not wait around to ponder that, a smart short-side move seeing Farimo in for the winger’s fifth try in four games.

Sneyd slotted the first of his five goals but Ashton was, this time, smuggled over in the 24th minute and Warrington doubled their score soon after.

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It came from a loose play, Toby King flinging the ball inside as he was forced to the touchline but Ben Currie then producing a storming run to set up position.

Gareth Widdop’s high kick was then brilliantly claimed by Anthony Gelling who scored but Ratchford failed to convert either.

The visitors reclaimed the lead when, on the back of a set restart call, Connor slid a grubber out of dummy-half towards the posts and, after Warrington failed to deal with it, Joe Cator pounced for his first try in Black and White colours.

Given the young loose forward’s displays this season - and here again tonight - it was richly deserved.

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Sneyd improved and, in the final seconds of the half, added a drop-goal for a 13-8 interval lead; he knew this would be tight even if the final scoreline says not.

Warrington Wolves: Ratchford; Charnley, Gelling, King, Ashton; Austin, Widdop; Hill, D Clark, Philbin, Hughes, Currie, J Clark. Substitutes: Davis, Murdoch-Masila, Robson, Mamo.

Hull FC: Connor; Naulago, Fonua, Griffin, Farimo; Tuimavave, Sneyd; Taylor, Johnstone, Bowden, Mau, Savelio, Cator. Substitutes: Houghton, Satae, Sao, Fash.

Referee: Liam Moore (Wigan)

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