Wakefield 24 Hull 32: Tickle delights Hull with Wembley spot

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The Independent Online

Richard Agar booked a trip to Wembley after just 10 matches in charge of Hull as John Kear's Cup magic finally ran out. Kear, already the architect of unlikely Cup Final triumphs by Sheffield and the Hull side of three years ago, saw the current crop take an 18-point lead in the first 10 minutes of this frantic semi-final.

"If you're going to come back from 18 points down in a Cup semi-final, it's very, very difficult indeed," he said of his tenacious Wildcats. "But they almost did it." Danny Tickle was Hull's hero with two early tries and six goals from six attempts, while Wakefield's potential match-winner, Danny Brough, could only manage two from six.

"He's a proven big-game player and the way he nailed those goals was a bonus," said Agar, who will continue a Wembley tradition begun by his father, Allan, who won at Wembley as a player and a coach.

In all its long history, the Challenge Cup will not have seen a more madcap first half in a semi-final. Hull appeared to have ruined it as a contest by scoring three converted tries in an opening salvo. The first two were carbon copies, Adam Dykes kicking for the corner, Gareth Raynor outjumping Matt Petersen and Tickle on hand to touch down.

When Danny Washbrook twisted out of a couple of tackles to put Graeme Horne over for the third, it seemed that Wakefield were a hopeless case.

After 12 minutes' slumber, however, they came to life, Danny Sculthorpe's pass sending Ryan Atkins towards the corner and, as he was being driven out of play, he got the ball away for Petersen to score.

Two minutes later, Atkins and Petersen booted the ball up field, Dykes hoisted it for the corner and Damien Blanch leapt to catch and touch down acrobatically. Wakefield were back in it, but then Oliver Wilkes lost the ball near his own line and Peter Cusack scored Hull's fourth.

The introduction of Tevita Leo-Latu from the bench gave Wakefield new effervescence and it was he who took an inside pass from Brett Ferries to re-launch their revival. Then Brough kicked for the left corner, Atkins won the battle for the ball and Trinity were only four points behind.

They started the second half almost as badly as the first to invite the try that Washbrook scored from yet another Dykes' kick.

There was not doubting the Wildcats' resilience, however, and after resisting further heavy pressure they hit back through Brad Drew's pinpoint kick to the unmarked Blanch.

Brough's conversion hit the post, while Tickle tagged on an extra couple of points for Richard Moore stealing the ball. Wakefield still had their chances after that, but Blanch was forced into the corner flag going for a hat-trick and Wilkes passed into the crowd with an overlap outside him.

There is some irony underlying Hull's win, because they could have been kicked out of the Cup for fielding the ineligible Jamie Thackray in two earlier rounds.

Wakefield: Tries Petersen, Blanch 2, Leo-Latu, Atkins; Goals Brough 2. Hull: Tries Tickle 2, Horne, Cusack, Washbrook; Goals Tickle 6.

Wakefield: Reilly; Blanch, Demetriou, Atkins, Petersen; Brough, Drew; Sculthorpe, Obst, Moore, Ferres, MacGillivray, Golden. Substitutes used: Bibey, Henderson, Wilkes, Leo-Latu.

Hull: Sing; Briscoe, Horn, Yeaman, Raynor; Washbrook, Dykes; Dowes, Berrigan, Thackray, Manu, Tickle, Radford. Substitutes used: Carvell, Cusack, Hall, Haughton.

Referee: R Silverwood (Mirfield).

l Canterbury Bulldogs say that they will take out an injunction to prevent Sunny Bell Williams playing rugby league in France. The New Zealand Test forward has walked out on the remaining four years of his contract and the NRL's chief executive David Gallop, says it will be "an act of international piracy" if Williams is allowed to play.