Warrington Wolves 36 Hull FC 18: Hull drop out of top four as Tickle loss is punished

A WEEK after heroically delivering Hull a controversial victory over Crusaders, Danny Tickle last night found himself in a distinctly different position.

When the Airlie Birds' second-row was sin-binned for holding down Michael Monaghan in the 55th minute, they were all level 12-12 against Warrington and in with a fighting chance of pushing on to secure a win against the Challenge Cup finalists.

However, during his enforced absence, their ruthless opponents took control of the contest, scoring twice and leaving drained Hull grimly hanging on.

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The defeat, coupled with Leeds's safe passage against Catalans, sees Richard Agar's men ousted from the top four but their final position will all come down to a winner-takes-all contest against the champions at KC Stadium next month.

Hull would have fancied their chances last night when seeing the team-sheet, Tony Smith leaving out the mercurial Lee Briers with one eye on their Wembley date with Leeds a week today.

However, such are the playing resources of Warrington, they hardly missed the talismanic stand-off or England prop Gareth Carvell who was also taken out of the firing line.

Indeed, it was the visitors who required a half-back, despite some fine efforts from makeshift duo Shaun Berrigan and Danny Washbrook. Hopefully, Richard Horne and Sean Long will return from injury and re-united for that final game of the regular season.

Agar's side started brightly last night but were given an insight into Warrington's defensive resolve when they forced four consecutive sets on the hosts' line but failed to cross.

Lee Radford, who would have a similar evening to Tickle, eventually spilled under the force of Ben Harrison's heavy tackle and it seemed the visitors could be in for a long night of frustration.

However, a moment of sheer class by Tom Briscoe saw them earn reward for their early endeavours.

In one movement, the England winger both collected Tickle's cut-out pass and produced some sublime footwork to evade Chris Riley. Equally as impressive was Briscoe's finishing powers as he held off Ryan Atkins's best efforts to touch down.

Tickle converted from wide out with the aid of a post.

Warrington were sloppy in possession early on, their customary slickness eluding them, although Hull were still forced into plenty of rearguard efforts, the outstanding Craig Fitzgibbon cutting down Richard Myler after Reece Lyne came off his wing well to deny Matt King.

But then Riley exposed Briscoe to race 25 metres for Warrington's first and – after Hull hit back with Epalahame Lauaki following crisp interplay from Berrigan and Fitzgibbon – he added his second just before half-time following a splendid handling movement which again split Hull's right side.

It was his 25th of the season to go level at the top of the try-scoring stakes but Riley may not even make the Wembley side.

Westwood nailed his touchline conversion and Hull were left to rue earlier missed opportunities, Craig Hall – recalled and positioned at full-back following Jordan Tansey's suspension – seeing two chances go begging in a matter of seconds.

After the break, Lyne, Hall and Willie Manu combined to prevent King touching down after the big Australian picked up Westwood's off-load but Tickle's yellow card brought the eventual carnage.

Just two minutes after he was dispatched, Hull were broken. They rushed up to pressurise Monaghan on the last tackle as he shaped to kick but he shimmied his way through instead as the line split, found Westwood who stumbled through before Louis Anderson found Jon Clarke to apply the finish.

With Hull conceding more penalties and struggling to contain Warrington's off-loading capabilities, they were put under constant pressure. Westwood barged through Radford's tackle to scramble over and maintained his 100 per cent record with the boot.

Radford raced on to Sam Moa's off-load and, rather fortuitously, saw it bounce off his leg before recovering to pick up and score between the posts.

Tickle had returned in time to take the kick but Radford's eventful few minutes continued as he lost possession from the restart. Adrian Morley subsequently barged his way over from 10 metres as Hull's hopes of retrieving the match were swiftly dashed.

While the England prop's finish was brutal, Myler's was more subtle.

He then latched onto Clarke's astute pass from dummy-half to race in and clinch the victory.

Warrington Wolves: Mathers, Hicks, King, Atkins, Riley, Myler, Monaghan, Morley, Clarke, Harrison, L. Anderson, Westwood, V. Anderson. Substitutes: Higham, Wood, Cooper, Solomona.

Hull FC: Hall, Lyne, Turner, Yeaman, T. Briscoe, Washbrook, Berrigan, Radford, Houghton, O'Meley, Manu, Tickle, Fitzgibbon. Substitutes: Dowes, Lauaki, Cusack, Moa.

Referee: I Smith (Oldham).