AN EMBARRASSING error from Wakefield Trinity’s Kyle Wood sparked a remarkable turnaround for Hull FC last night.
Leading 18-10 approaching the hour mark, the visitors looked set to push on and earn the win that would see them replace the Challenge Cup holders in fourth spot.
However, a moment of sheer madness led to a spectacular capitulation as Hull ran in five tries in the final 20 minutes.
Hooker Wood claimed a high Marc Sneyd kick near his own line initially to divert the danger. However, sensing a potential overlap out wide and the chance to turn defence into attack, he passed in the shadow of his own posts – straight to Jake Connor.
Sneyd converted to get within two points and, soon after, the scrum-half, back after missing the last four games with injury, weaved his way through some static defence from 20m out to put his side in front.
Hull had beaten Castleford Tigers in an epic Challenge Cup battle on Sunday while Wakefield had three days’ extra turnaround having lost to Salford the previous Thursday.
However, Hull – with Albert Kelly a surprise omission – rose in confidence as Jamie Shaul scored his second of the night, a stunning 60m solo try out of dummy-half.
Mahe Fonua romped away, too, for a 50m effort after Wakefield pressed and saw the ball go to ground before Jansin Turgut made sure on a painful night for the visitors.
With forwards Craig Huby and Matty Ashurst in fine form, they had come out on top of an absorbing first half and were 12-10 ahead having impressively held their nerve when going 10-0 down in the 20th minute.
Former Hull KR prop Adam Walker made inroads with his first carry off the bench enabling Sam Williams to deliver a slick pass for James Batchelor to arrow through on 27 minutes.
Liam Finn converted – amassing his 2,500th career point in the process – and his side were over again soon after.
Williams’ well-placed grubber saw Shaul tackled three yards in front of his own posts, but he soon forced back behind his own line by the Australian half-back, Ashurst and Finn.
From the resulting drop-out, Williams showed great elusiveness to slip Danny Houghton’s attempted tackle and glide over from 20m, Finn’s conversion from wide out putting them in front for the first time.
Williams’ purple patch almost continued with 90 seconds of the half remaining, but his ambitious, long cut-out pass that ushered Ben Jones-Bishop in at the corner was rightly ruled to have floated forward.
This said, Hull still had a glorious chance to retrieve the situation when Steve Michaels rose to latch onto Sneyd’s pinpoint crossfield kick in acres of space.
The Australian only needed to gather and he would have scored, but thought he was under more pressure than he really was and, so, palmed down harmlessly.
Hull had built up that 10-0 lead when Trinity were down to 12 men – although the hosts were down a player, too, so they clearly just dealt with the situation better.
A flat-footed Huby stuck out a flailing arm to slow Hull winger Steve Michaels who carried on regardless. But his team-mate Fonua took offence and traded punches with the Wakefield prop leading both to be yellow-carded.
Danny Washbrook made a fine break to supply Shaul with his first try and then Fetuli Talanoa added another when Trinity conceded two penalties in the restart set.
But the visitors fired back and when Scott Grix kicked a 40/20 in the 44th minute for ex-Hull centre Reece Lyne to put them 18-10 up, they looked destined to avoid a third straight defeat. However, Wood’s gaffe helped turn the contest and they are left counting the cost.
Hull FC: Shaul; Michaels, Fonua, Tuimavave, Talanoa; Connor, Sneyd; Bowden, Houghton, Watts, Turgut, Washbrook, Manu. Substitutes: Griffin, Taylor, Thompson, Fash.
Wakefield Trinity: Grix; Jones-Bishop, Lyne, Tupou, Caton-Brown; Williams, Finn; England, Wood, Huby, Ashurst, Batchelor, Arona. Substitutes: Arundel, Annakin, Hirst, Walker.
Referee: Chris Kendall (Huddersfield).