With the Warrington Wolves and St Helens already into the semi-finals of the 2021 Betfred Challenge Cup, all eyes were on the BBC coverage of the double-header from Emerald Headingley starting with an intriguing fixture between Hull FC and the Wigan Warriors.
The two sides met just nine days ago when the Warriors triumphed by just a two-point margin at 16-14 thanks to a fifty-sixth minute Zak Hardaker penalty goal.
What we witnessed was another decent scrap between two teams from the business end of the Super League table.
Jake Bibby was first over the whitewash on nine minutes when he executed a planned move, after Hull failed to play the ball twenty from their own line. The centre took the ball at the end of a passing move to score in the corner. Zak Hardaker was wide of the target with the conversion attempt.
Hull hit the front on twelve after Chris Satae crashed over the line from first receiver, again after a defensive error, to ground under the sticks. Marc Sneyd added the conversion for a 6-4 lead. All early indications were that this would be a close cup tie between two evenly matched sides.
A Sneyd penalty on twenty extended the FC lead to four points, punishing Wigan for straying offside. Hardaker hit the post with a simple looking penalty attempt on thirty-two, FC regaining possession while the Wigan full-back scratched his head.
On thirty-three Jack Brown was sin-binned for a dangerous tackle on Joe Shorrocks, tackling below the knee. Hull rode out the remaining seven minutes of the half, a man down, and took the lead into the break.
Sneyd missed a simple looking penalty goal on fifty-three but was accurate with the boot two minutes later when there was a late tackle on the kicker.
A mistake from Bevan French, knocking on while trying to collect a kick through, gifted the ball to FC on the Wigan twenty. Two plays in Satae went between two defenders and managed to get the ball onto the ground for his, and Hull’s second. Sneyd added the goal to put the Airlie Birds 16-4 ahead with fourteen minutes left on the clock.
A Sneyd drop-goal attempt on seventy was deflected wide and a second on seventy-three went well wide.
With seventy-five seconds remaining Dom Manfredi chased down a French grubber kick and grounded the ball in the goal area. Harry Smith added the conversion for 10-16. As Wigan tried to force the try to draw level, Adam Swift intercepted twenty from his own line and sprinted downfield to score, summersaulting with the ground. Hull FC turned down the chance to kick, winning 20-10.
FC fully deserved the win as they held their cool when down to twelve men and profited from Wigans mistakes and ill-discipline. Wigan players will know that they had a bad day at the office, some worse than others, and will be ruing that they missed their chances when FC didn’t. Hull join the Saints and Wolves in the semi-finals and await the outcome of the Tigers and Red Devils.
Hull FC: Swift (T), Scott, Tuimavave, Griffin, Fonua, Reynolds, Sneyd (4G), Satae (2T), Houghton, Sao, Ma’u, Savelio, Lane. Subs: Brown (SB on 33), Cator, Johnstone, Wynne.
Wigan Warriors: Hardaker, French, Farrell, Isa, Bibby (T), Hastings, Smith (G), Singleton, Powell, Byrne, Smithies, Bateman, Partington. Subs: Bullock, Shorrocks, Havard, Manfredi (T).
Referee: Rob Hicks.
Score Progression: 0-4, 4-4, 6-4, 8-4 : HT : 10-4, 14-4, 16-4, 16-8, 16-10, 20-10 : FT.