Kurt Gidley penalty seals Warrington comeback in thriller against Hull FC

Aaron Bower at the Halliwell Jones Stadium
The Guardian
<span class="element-image__caption">Matty Russell, left, here against St Helens last season, scored three tries for Warrington in their 22-22 draw at home to Hull FC.</span> <span class="element-image__credit">Photograph: Ed Sykes/Reuters</span>
Matty Russell, left, here against St Helens last season, scored three tries for Warrington in their 22-22 draw at home to Hull FC. Photograph: Ed Sykes/Reuters

Warrington secured their first point of the season at the seventh attempt courtesy of a thrilling and ultimately deserved draw against Hull FC. Last season’s Grand Finalists remain bottom of the table and without a win almost a third of the way through the regular season, but they can at least take solace from a much-improved performance here against a Hull side with just one defeat all season.

The home side trailed by 14 points with half an hour remaining as Hull looked destined to move level on points with Castleford – the leaders – and Leeds, before the Wolves staged a fantastic comeback to at least ensure something to build from heading into the busy Easter period.

Tony Smith, the Wolves coach, said: “I thought we let them off the hook. They’re working very hard and we were better than last week: and we’ll be better again next week. In that regard I’m very pleased.”

Hull will be left to rue another second-half collapse preventing them from moving joint-top; last week at Wigan they led 22-0 before narrowly holding on to win 22-20, and here, they were again out of sorts after half-time. “By the end it was a point gained,” Lee Radford, the Hull coach, said. “You can’t build a lead up like that and throw it away by the end. We expected a desperate Warrington side and they didn’t disappoint in that regard.”

Hull led after nine minutes when Albert Kelly danced through the Warrington defence to touch down, and while the first of Matty Russell’s three tries temporarily reduced the gap to two, some horrendous errors from the home side soon turned the game in Hull’s favour. A stray Kevin Brown pass was intercepted by Jake Connor before an error from Stefan Ratchford saw Jamie Shaul finish a sweeping Hull counter-attack to add to their lead.

Warrington replied via Russell’s second to make it 20-8 at the break, but following a Sneyd penalty to extend the lead to 14, the Wolves began to steadily improve thereafter. Daryl Clark charged over from close range before Russell secured his hat-trick with a remarkable finish, before Gidley’s penalty set up a frantic finale.

Both sides pushed in the closing stages for a decisive drop-goal to win the game, with Ratchford coming close in vain for the home side who, despite undoubtedly edging the second half, will perhaps just be relieved to be up and running in 2017.

Elsewhere, a hat-trick of tries from Danny Craven saw Widnes win 37-24 at Leigh Centurions, a result that ensured Warrington remained bottom, while Wakefield pulled off an impressive 38-18 victory at Catalans Dragons.

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