A Lee Smith drop-goal a minute from time gave Wakefield three wins in a row for the first time in a year. A night of fluctuating fortunes came when Shannon McDonnell lost the ball near his line and Smith took his chance.
A hat-trick of tries from the find of the season Ben Crooks seemed to have arrested Hull’s recent decline. Second best for much of a lack-lustre game, they were apparently rescued by the finishing power of the young centre, only to be overhauled by tries from Smith and Peter Fox.
Kirk Yeaman tied it up again but Danny Tickle could not land what would have been a match-winning kick, to the relief of Wildcats coach, Richard Agar. “We really hung in there on a difficult night,” said Agar. “I thought our effort was superb.”
The in-form Crooks celebrated his 20th birthday by ghosting in for the game’s first try. Wakefield struck back with Fox’s try from Dean Collis’ back-handed pass. That gave them the confidence to take the lead with a second score, created by Paul Sykes’ exchange of passes with Smith, after Hull had conceded crucial penalties.
A knock-on by Fox produced a loose ball for Hull, turned into an equalising try for Tom Lineham by new boy Jacob Miller. It remained all-square until just before half-time when Oliver Wilkes put the Wildcats in front.
Neither side could have much to feel proud of at half-time but after the break there was a moment of sheer quality from Crooks which brought Hull level, picking up Tim Smith’s kick off his bootlaces and going 90 metres to touch down, despite the bravest of chases from Danny Kirmond. Crooks’ hat-trick try was contentious, the ball coming out of Gareth Ellis’ grasp earlier in the move.
Yeaman’s foolish penalty set up Lee Smith to bring Wakefield back into it, but he could not land the equalising conversion. Fox’s second try gave them the edge with 10 minutes to play. But the visitors stood and watched Miller’s high kick bounce for Yeaman to pounce and level once more.
Hull: McDonnell; Lineham, Crooks, Yeaman, Briscoe; Holdsworth, Miller; O’Meley, Houghton, Watts, Ellis, Westerman, Galea. Substitutes used: Lynch, Tickle, Johnson, Heremaia.
Wakefield: Mathers; Fox, Collis, L.Smith, Cockayne; Sykes, T.Smith; Poore, Aiton, Amor, Kirmond, Mariano, Washbrook. Substitutes used: Lauitiiti, Raleigh, Wood, Wilkes.
Referee: T Roby (St Helens)