Four Pointers: Wigan Warriors 14 Hull FC 18
Hull completed back-to-back Challenge Cup wins as they beat Wigan Warriors on Saturday afternoon at Wembley Stadium. Hull came into the match with two wins from two in the league against the Warriors, they made it a third this year in the Capital to retain the trophy.
It was Wigan who drew first blood inside Wembley Stadium, just four minutes in, a kick from Thomas Leuluai was allowed to bounce by the Hull defenders. However, it fell into the hands of a Cherry and White shirt, allowing Gelling to free John Bateman to crash over for the first score of the game. Williams landed the conversion to put Wigan 6-0 to the good. It wasn’t long before Hull hit back though, great work from Sneyd with a high ball to the corner saw Fetuli Talanoa rise the highest to collect the ball and touch down. Sneyd added the conversion from the touchline to draw things level.
Hull got themselves in front on the 20 minute mark, another piece of play controlled from the boot of Marc Sneyd wasn’t dealt with by the Wigan back line and all Mahe Fonua had to do was pop it down in acres of space, another successful conversion from Sneyd put Hull up to 12-6.
Oliver Gildart snatched one back for the Warriors with half time approaching, a succession of quick hands saw the ball finding its’ way to the number four, who had the pace to pop it down in the corner. Williams missed the conversion attempt, seeing Hull have the narrow lead at half time 12-10.
It was an impressive start for the black and whites in the second half, winger Mahe Fonua getting his second of the game with an impressive flying finish at the corner. Liam Marshall tried his best to force him into touch, but Fonua produced a stunning leap to get the ball down in time. Sneyd once again had no trouble getting the extras, taking Hull up to 18-10. Fonua thought he had bagged a Wembley hattrick on the 60 minute mark, however his try was ruled out for an obstruction in the build-up and Wigan survived the scare. Wigan were also denied a try at the other end a short while later, Tony Clubb went over from close-range, the referee wasn’t sure if the ball was stripped. The video referee decided there wasn’t enough evidence to prove the ball steal and Wigan were left disappointed and on the back of a Hull 20m restart. Wigan stepped it up in the final 15 to really push hull, Joe Burgess went over in the 70th minute after two great passes from O’Loughlin and Farrell set him free. Williams couldn’t get that conversion either and Wigan trailed by four as the minutes ticked on. There was a huge gasp in the 79th minute of the game as Burgess looked to have got the levelling try right at the death, but the referee pulled it back for a forward pass, confirming the win for Hull. The Airlie Birds ran out 18-14 winners, earning them their second successive Challenge Cup Title.
There has been much deliberation following match about the future of the Challenge Cup at Wembley. Wembley has been iconic in the history of the important cup, but this year it seemed to have lost its’ spark.
Outside the ground saw very little in the way of fan activity and involvement, and there wasn’t a great deal more inside either. A brass band that could barely be heard over the sound system, a mistake in the build up to Abide With Me and a generally flat atmosphere throughout the game.
Many are owing this to travel problems in London on that weekend, as well as the inflation of ticket prices for the match. Is it a case of needing a different venue, or is it a case of making things that bit more exciting for the fans that are travelling for hours to be at the occasion?
Marc Sneyd has now not only won back-to-back Challenge Cups, but back-to-back Lance Todd Trophies, and deservedly so.
He was the out and out difference in the Hull side last year, and it was like dejavu in the final this year. After Wigan opened the scoring he put on a masterclass from the boot, being vital in the build up to two tries, converting all three of his efforts and also landing a huge 40/20 effort on the day.
Hull were struggling to break down the Warriors with their open attacking play, but as soon as Sneyd mixed up the play from his boot, it left Wigan completely open and struggling to deal with the ariel threat. Sneyd was without a doubt the influence in Hull’s win.
OFFICIALLY OFF PAR?
Hull had a try disallowed in the second half, much to the dismay of the Hull fans. However, it was an effort in the 63rd minute which got people talking, particularly on social media.
Wigan’s Tony Clubb looked to have scored on his first ever Wembley appearance, but the ball became dislodged as he turned to put the ball down. Clubb, and many online were left dumbfounded as the video referee, James Child, adjudged that he had knocked on and Hull were awarded a 20m restart. Many felt that the ball was stripped from the number 15 as he went in for the score, leaving some people questioning the reliability of the match officials who operate both on and off the pitch.
It was a controversial moment in the match, which even Hull Coach, Lee Radford agreed he wasn’t sure about following the match: “I honestly thought Tony Clubb’s was a try. I thought we dodged a bullet there but I’ve also ran into a few bullets as well so we’ll take that.” Wigan Coach, Shaun Wane, said he didn’t want to use the No Try decision as an excuse, although he was also unsure how the decision came about.
— RL Banter (@RLBP_) August 26, 2017
Overall, many are content that the better team won. Hull looked like they really wanted to retain that title, they went into the game as favourites and didn’t let that deter them. Radford admitted that he almost left Mahe Fonua out of the side after some shaky form in the league, he will be glad he changed his decision after the winger bagged two efforts on the day.
Hull FC found a weakness in the Wigan side early in the contest and managed to take advantage of that as the game played out. Wigan didn’t give up, and they fought until the end but Hull can be happy with their performance, and they’ll definitely be happy with retaining the title for a second year at Wembley. Can they do it in the league and reach the Grand Final too? Only time will tell.
Wigan Warriors (10) 14
Tries: Bateman, Gildart, Burgess
Goals: Williams 1/3
Hull FC (12) 18
Tries: Talanoa, Fonua 2
Goals: Sneyd 3/3
Man of the Match: Marc Sneyd
POST MATCH MEDIA
Wigan Warriors Coach, Shaun Wane:
“The way we started that second half, our completion was at 58%, we also kicked out on the full and gave away a penalty on the last play and we were never going to win it playing like that. We had a chance at the end, but whether we deserved it, I’m not sure.”
Hull FC Coach, Lee Radford: “It’s music to the ears to win it twice in a row. The boys don’t give in for 80 minutes, they fought for everything and didn’t disappoint.”
“It’s a special group of players with special supporters at a special club.”
Hull FC Prop, Scott Taylor: “Wigan are an unbelievable team and they get in finals regularly because they deserve to be there.”
“We certainly had to be at our best today, that’s exactly what we did and we came out with the cup!”
Referee: Phil Bentham
Venue: Wembley Stadium, London
Date/Time: Saturday 26th August 2017 – 15:00pm GMT
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