Warrington Wolves made a second-half comeback to beat an injury-plagued Hull FC 30-12 at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.
They were 12-0 behind at the break, but scored five unanswered tries after that to turn the game on its head in a dominant 40 minutes.
The first half had belonged to Hull FC, who were on the board within six minutes when a high kick from Liam Harris was slapped back by Jake Connor to Sika Manu, who played in Dean Hadley to score.
Their second score was as simple as they come, with Danny Houghton passing out of dummy half to Mickey Paea and the prop did the rest to charge through under the posts. Connor converted both of those tries to give Hull a 12-0 lead that was untouched through to the break.
They forced back-to-back drop outs but couldn’t take advantage, before Warrington were in after a drop out at the other end only for the assist from Stefan Ratchford to Josh Charnley to be ruled marginally forward.
Hakim Miloudi came close to scoring one of the season’s most unusual tries, as a number of kicks from halfway saw him to the line in improvised fashion, but Jamie Shaul was found to be offside from one of those kicks and the try was chalked off.
Good Warrington defence was required to keep Jack Logan out in the corner, before the half ended in controversy. Wolves captain Chris Hill reacted angrily following a tackle and alleged a bite from Miloudi, but the officials couldn’t see any evidence and placed the incident on report.
Nevertheless, the fracas put fire in Warrington bellies and they came out in the second half a completely different side.
Harvey Livett was their standout player and he got them on the board within six minutes of the restart, forcing his way past Dean Hadley off the back of a drop out.
The Wire then drew level through Kevin Brown, who did well to round Hadley and spin past two further defenders to make it to the line.
They claimed the lead for the first time in the match just short of the hour mark, and it came through a typical charge from Ben Murdoch-Masila who couldn’t be halted from a few metres out.
The next try came from the in-form Josh Charnley, who scored his tenth try in six matches by finishing a swift Wolves move across to his right wing.
They were denied another in controversial fashion, when Declan Patton charged over and looked to have grounded the ball cleanly, but the referee on the field had already called the tackle so the video official couldn’t award the try.
They did soon score for the fifth time though, as Ryan Atkins skipped through a visibly tired Hull defence to round off the comeback.
Livett could have sealed his great performance with a second try late on, but his effort was ruled out, with the help of the video referee, for a push on Danny Washbrook.
WHAT WE’VE LEARNED
A real game of two halves
It’s an excruciating cliché but this was truly a game of two halves, with Hull FC showing all the endeavour in the first half against what Steve Price described as a “horrendous” Warrington.
The game may well have revolved around the incident a minute before the half-time break, when Chris Hill claimed a bite from Hull full-back Hakim Miloudi. That put passion in their bellies and they kept a hold of that in the second half.
Hull were clearly fading as the second half wore on, and the Wolves ruthlessly took advantage to claim what in the end looks on the scoreboard to be a comfortable win.
Depleted Hull can’t hold on
Hull FC came into the game with the majority of their backline unavailable, but despite that adversity they put everything into the first half and deservedly held the lead.
It would always be trickier to hold out as the game wore on, and in the end an improved Wolves side possessed too much quality for their inexperienced opponents.
A potential injury to Jake Connor doesn’t do their crisis any favours, and it could be a few tough months ahead still for Lee Radford.
Man of the Match – Harvey Livett (Warrington Wolves)
Harvey Livett was the standout performer for the Wolves in the second half, making strong carries and being a key creative force.
He took his own try well to get his side back into the game, and impressively converted all five of his kicks to give his side a comfortable winning margin.
Warrington Wolves 30
Tries: Livett, K Brown, Murdoch-Masila, Charnley, Atkins
Goals: Livett (5)
Drop Goals: n/a
Hull FC 12
Tries: Hadley, Paea
Goals: Connor (2)
Drop Goals: n/a
Warrington: Ratchford; Lineham, M Brown, Atkins, Charnley; K Brown, Roberts; Hill, Clark, Murdoch-Masila; Livett, Hughes, Westwood.
Interchanges: Patton, Philbin, G King, Pomeroy.
Hull FC: Shaul; Miloudi, Scott, Hadley, Logan; Connor, Harris; Paea, Houghton, Green; Manu, Minichiello, Westerman.
Interchanges: Washbrook, Fash, Lane, Matongo.
Referee: Gareth Hewer