Cooke inspires Hull triumph

Hull 36 Wakefield 33
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The Independent Online

Jamie Thackray's try two minutes from time decided a wildly fluctuating contest between Super League play-off aspirants yesterday that more than made up in drama what it lacked in technical perfection.

Jamie Thackray's try two minutes from time decided a wildly fluctuating contest between Super League play-off aspirants yesterday that more than made up in drama what it lacked in technical perfection.

Hull were trailing by a point when Wakefield were pulled up for a debatable forward pass. They seized their last chance with Paul Cooke, a towering influence throughout, getting the ball away for Thackray to wrestle his way over the line.

"Technically, it wasn't that good a game for us, but, character-wise, it was outstanding,'' said the Hull coach, John Kear. "Champion teams have the belief to hang in there when they're not playing that well and get a result.''

Hull were not obviously missing the virus victim Richard Horne as they built up a 14-point lead in 12 minutes, with tries from Cooke, Richard Swain and Gareth Raynor.

It looked as though Wakefield could be on the way to one of their occasional heavy defeats but they hit back through Kevin King, Colum Halpenny and Jason Demetriou to lead, although Cooke's penalty made it all square at half-time.

Wakefield led again when Ben Jeffries capitalised on Sam Obst's break but then it was Hull's turn to take control once more, with Shaun Briscoe scoring from Cooke's wonderful backhand flick, and Motu Tony pouncing when Halpenny spilled a high kick.

Trinity drew level when Briscoe fumbled Obst's low kick and Obst followed up to score. Jamie Rooney's drop goal edged Wakefield in front and he had the chance to give them what could have been a match-winning lead when Semi Tadulala scored from David Solomona's pass, but his conversion attempt hit the bar.

Kirk Yeaman went over from the inevitable Cooke pass to set up the nerve-jangling finish. "We were the better side for the majority of the game, even after giving them a 14-point start,'' said Wakefield's Shane McNally, who claimed to have been "mystified'' by some decisions from the referee Ronnie Laughton.

"My players say that the Hull players were telling him how to referee the game and, if that's the case, it's not good enough,'' he said.

Hull: Briscoe, Blacklock, Eagar, Yeaman, Raynor, G Horne, Lupton, Dowes, Swain, Thackray, McMenemy, Chester, Cooke. Substitutes: Tony, Saxton, Higgins, McNicholas.

Wakefield: Halpenny, Kirk, Demetriou, King, Tadulala, Rooney, Jeffries, Feather, March, Korkidas, Solomona, Wrench, J Field. Substitutes: Griffin, Obst, Snitch, O'Neill.

Referee: R Laughton (Barnsley).

* Rochdale Hornets made Challenge Cup history yesterday with a 120-4 victory over Halifax amateur side Illingworth in a third-round tie at Spotland. With their 21-try rout, Hornets posted the highest score in the 108-year history of the tournament - beating the old record set by Huddersfield in their 119-2 win over Swinton Park in 1914, although that remains the widest margin.

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