Wigan Warriors v Hull FC - Marc Sneyd out to make play-off history
For anyone who thinks the Black and Whites have little chance of winning tonight’s Super League semi-final at table-topping Wigan Warriors, it is always worth remembering that the trusted and prolific scrum-half is in their ranks.
Although Sneyd seems to be rarely celebrated anywhere outside of the west side of Hull, he remains one of the best in the business at delivering key performances and ‘clutch’ plays when it matters most.
It could be critical as the East Yorkshire club – who finished sixth and have not won the league for 37 years – try to complete their unlikely trail to next Friday’s Grand Final at KCOM Stadium.
Sneyd has twice won the Lance Todd Trophy after helping Hull to back-to-back Challenge Cups in 2016 and 2017 and, whether with crucial 40/20s, precision grubbers or his famous drop goals, the 29-year-old tends to rise to the occasion in the biggest games of all.
On those who have criticised him – often for being too slow or not crafty enough to be a top-class No 7 – Sneyd said: “It’s always an enjoyable thing when you can look someone in the face who’s said something that’s not true.
“Everybody enjoys doing that and I’m guessing the rest of the team is the same as me.
“The close games are when I enjoy my rugby the most.
“When there’s a lot more pressure and stuff on the line, it tends to be where I do best.
“Winning the Challenge Cups was amazing, but I’ve never even been to a Grand Final. Hopefully we can get the win against Wigan and then all our energy will be on the KCOM Stadium.”
Most clubs do not enjoy visiting Wigan’s DW Stadium but Hull won’t be one of those this evening and not just because the usual shrill of thousands of Warriors fans will not be in attendance.
They have enjoyed success there before when Sneyd stepped up with the winning drop-goal in the first-ever Super League Golden Point win last year.
“We’ve turned out some of our best performances at Wigan,” said Sneyd, who was masterful as Hull started their play-offs campaign with a brilliant 27-14 win at third-placed Warrington Wolves last week.
“You go there and expect the best from them which makes you perform at your best. We expect nothing different on Thursday. Hopefully we’ll turn out our best performance of the season as I think we’ll need it.”
Critically, and unusually, they saved one of their worst for the last time these sides met.
Hull were dumped out of the Challenge Cup after Wigan vanquished them 36-4 in September’s quarter-final at Salford. They were badly off the pace but Sneyd insists it is hard to quantify just how much improvement has been made in Andy Last’s side since that disappointing day.
With that in mind, the squad – now aiming for a fifth straight win – has barely even mentioned what happened in that contest. “Leaving it where it is is how I’ve looked at it,” explained Sneyd.
“That was one to forget. But we’re doing things 10 times better now than we were that day.
“It’d be daft to look back when we’re all on such a high. We should go in confident and believe we can win the game.
“From that Wigan game in the cup to where we are now, we’ve come very, very far.
“We’re not doing things differently, just doing a lot of the same things better.”
Now they will look to replicate the brilliant all-round display showed against Warrington.
With usual half-back partner Albert Kelly having returned home to Australia and Jake Connor switching to full-back in such style, centre Carlos Tuimavae played at No 6 then and will continue there tonight. He is rated as one of the best centres in Super League but arrived in the UK five years ago predominantly as a half.
“Carlos is a threat wherever he plays; you get him on the field and things happen,” said Sneyd, as the duo prepare to go up against Tommy Leuluai and Man of Steel Jackson Hastings.
“It’s the same answer as when people ask about Jake (Connor).
“Carlos is a really laid back character and he’s really laid back on the ball, too.
“To throw him in at six in such a big game, I don’t think Lasty even had a second thought about that one. It’s quite an easy solution when you have somebody like him in the team.
“And now we know we’ve got the opportunity to turn what was a pretty mediocre season into what could be a bit of history.”