Widnes 0 Hull 38: Fetuli Talanoa hat-trick keeps Airliebirds on course for possible treble

FETULI TALANOA has never scored more tries in one season than the 15 he has now collected, not even when playing outside the legendary Australia centre Greg Inglis.

Fetuli Talanoa scored a hat-trick for Hull in their victory over Widnes Vikings last night ( Picture: Bruce Rollinson).

The Tongan winger, in his third season after joining Hull FC from South Sydney, scored a quality hat-trick last night as the Super League leaders ruthlessly destroyed Widnes Vikings.

Kirk Yeaman, the veteran Hull centre enjoying a resurgence this term for his hometown club, is, in a way, surpassing Inglis; he laid on all three for his wideman as Lee Radford’s side took another step closer to the League Leaders’ Shield.

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Talanoa, the Aucklander who missed last week’s Super 8s opening defeat to Castleford, will take plenty of the plaudits but Jordan Abdull, too, was central to an important win for the Challenge Cup finalists.

The majority of Hull fans will have felt a little uneasy when seeing his name at scrum-half last night rather than Marc Sneyd’s.

For all the 20-year-old is undoubtedly talented, he is still raw and has mistakes in him.

With Sneyd, their influential playmaker, surprisingly missing for the first time this season due to an unreported ankle injury, and that Wembley date with Warrington Wolves barely a fortnight away, you could understand why the Black and Whites faithful who travelled over might have been slightly concerned.

However, there was no need for such doubt; Abdull, given another chance in preference to the veteran Leon Pryce, was at the heart of this win, scoring a fine individual try, creating two more with superb passes and kicking five from seven attempts.

Sneyd should be fit for next Thursday’s home game with Catalans Dragons, the East Yorkshire club’s final fixture before heading south for that showpiece, but Radford will now feel reassured his understudy could do a job in both if needed.

For all the end scoreline was emphatic, Hull FC fans could be forgiven for fearing their season might just start to unravel following a mistake-ridden opening quarter.

They had lost three of their last five league games, had looked far from convincing for some weeks – aside from that semi-final win over Wigan – and here they were looking disorganised and lacklustre once again.

Fortunately, for all the visitors were off-key in that opening spell, Widnes were pretty dire, too – a far cry from the side that vanquished Hull here in March – and so were unable to make Hull pay for their sloppy start.

Admittedly, there was some quality defence, too, Talanoa alert to force Ryan Ince into touch when the Widnes winger looked likely to score and Scott Taylor, the tireless prop, producing a crucial tackle to deny Ed Chamberlain after Widnes had countered from Jamie Shaul’s benign kick.

All of which meant the game was still scoreless after 20 minutes so, when Radford’s side finally found some semblance of rhythm – and the energy missing the previous week – they were able to take the lead themselves.

Once they did, Abdull shrugging off an out-rushing Widnes defender before showing great strength to weave over in the 22nd minute, there only looked like there would be one winner. Widnes eventually conceded four tries in 12 minutes to suddenly go in 22-0 down.

When Yeaman’s clever kick forced a drop-out, Abdull was to the fore again with a long pass to help find Talanoa but only following a lovely midfield move that saw Gareth Ellis’s runaround resemble Steve ‘Knocker’ Norton, the ball-handling loose forward who featured when Hull last won the title in 1983.

Centre Mahe Fonua, who like Talanoa and Watts, was also back after missing the Castleford game, twisted over from close range before Talanoa raced in for his second from 50m out after another Widnes pass went to ground. In fairness to a depleted Widnes side, whose Super 8s hopes are essentially over, they tried rallying at the start of the second period and had two efforts ruled out by the video official.

Great defence from Fonua saw Corey Thompson denied in the corner and then Lloyd White spilled as he dummied over.

Instead, Steve Michaels leapt high to take Carlos Tuimavave’s high kick in the 51st minute and Hull, with Danny Houghton and Taylor as dominant as ever up front, marched on.

Abdull’s subtle ‘no-look’ pass opened up Widnes once more for Dean Hadley to surge over for his first try this year before Talanoa, fittingly, rounded it off in the 70th minute with another fine finish off Yeaman’s pass.

Meanwhile, if fourth-placed St Helens avoid defeat against Catalans tonight, Widnes – top of the league at Easter – will be the first side unable to reach the top four, a sorry scenario after just two weeks of the so-called Super 8s.

However, that does not bother Hull one bit; they are two points clear at the summit and looking good for Wembley – with Abdull beginning to give Radford a nice headache, too.

Widnes Vikings: Mellor; Ince, Chamberlain, Ah Van; Brown, Heremaia; Buchanan, White, Burke, Houston, Whitley, Cahill. Substitutes: Leuluai, Manuokafoa, Chapelhow, Farrell.

Hull FC: Shaul; Michaels, Fonua, Yeaman, Talanoa; Tuimavave, Abdull; Taylor, Houghton, Watts, Manu, Minichiello, Ellis. Substitutes: Green, Hadley, Bowden, Pritchard.

Referee: Ben Thaler (Wakefield)