A coronavirus ravaged Warrington Wolves gave debuts to Leilani Latu, Ellis Robson and Ellis Longstaff as they were without the services of seven regular first teamers due to self-isolation measures. They elected to play the game when they could have postponed, their effort to stop the season descending into farce.
A win for the Wolves would lift them into second spot, level on points with St Helens who had just demolished the Huddersfield Giants. A win for Hull, unless it was by more than forty-eight points would not make any difference to their league position but it would maintain their push for a top four place should the sides above them slip up over the coming weeks.
The Wolves were slight favourites, but FC had only been given a two point start on the coupon as the bookies and pundits thought that the enforced changes would make it a competitive game.
Anthony Gelling lost the ball in the tackle with his first touch since returning from injury. Hull FC made the most of the opportunity when Josh Griffin stepped inside on the third tackle and got the ball on the line for the opening try of the game. With Marc Sneyd out injured for a couple of months Jake Connor kicked the goal.
Mike Cooper levelled the scores on eleven, pushing between two Hull tacklers to score from ten metres out. Stefan Ratchford added the conversion, seconds after referee Thaler put an allegation of ‘biting’ on report, Declan Patton on Ligi Sao.
Warrington’s second try came on nineteen as Matty Ashton was in the right place to collect a knocked-back ball from Ben Currie, off a Blake Austin high kick, and drop over the line for a four pointer. Ratchford added the conversion for 12-6.
Hull were back on level terms when an Albert Kelly pass put Carlos Tuimavave through a gap in the defensive line to score by the sticks. Connor added the goal and the sides were all square at 12-12. Both sides enjoying periods of possession and position in an even half of rugby.
Four minutes from the interval Jake Mamo eased the Wolves back into the lead, stepping out of one tackle and then dropping the shoulder to fool the FC defence to go in from twenty metres. Ratchford added the conversion to put his side six point ahead. Blake Austin slotted over a one-pointer with thirty seconds left on the clock for a 19-12 advantage at the interval.
Five minutes after the restart Mamo picked up a low Currie grubber, taking out the kicked in the process, to go over for his second of the game. Ratchford added the conversion for 25-12.
A Cooper offload went to Leilanu Lati for the debutant to score from two metres out and take the game beyond the Airlie Birds. When Ratchford added the conversion it was 31-12, FC needing four converted tries in the last twenty minutes.
Austin capped a great personal performance with a try as he went through a fractured Hull defensive line after throwing a dummy left and dropping the shoulder back inside. Dec Patton kicked the conversion for 37-12 with ninety seconds left on the clock.
After an evenly matched opening thirty, Warrington took control just before the interval and maintained it on the second half. Despite being under strength they still had way too much for a Hull FC side who are also suffering from a weakened squad. The Wolves move ahead of Wigan and into second spot as three sides now jointly lead the competition going into round twelve. Hull have dropped below Huddersfield on points difference and now reside in eigth place in the table.
Wolves: Ashton (T), Charnley, Gelling, Mamo (2T), Lineham, Austin (T, DG), Patton (G), Latu (T), Clark D, Cooper (T), Currie, King, Ratchford (5G). Subs: Walker, Johnson, Robson, Longstaff.
FC: Shaul, Swift, Tuimavave (T), Griffin (T), Faraimo, Kelly, Connor (2G), Sao, Johnstone, Brown, Lane, Ma’u, Fash. Subs: Bowden, Buchanan, Fonua, Houghton.
Referee: Ben Thaler.
Ground: Emerald Headingley Stadium, Leeds.