It was the game that neither side could afford to lose as Hull FC played hosts to Wakefield Trinity at the KCOM in the Thursday night game.
A win for FC would as good as guarantee them a play-off semi-final spot (Saints would need to win their remaining two games against Huddersfield and Salford, and FC would need to lose their last game at Castleford for them to slip up). A win for Wakefield would see Trinity go above FC and set them up for a play off for the play offs when they meet the Warriors in the final round.
It couldn’t possibly have been tighter in terms of league positions but the bookies had FC as the favourites for the win.
Both sides had crushing defeats last weekend, FC at the hands of the Warriors and Trinity to St Helens.
After absorbing the early pressure Trinity opened the scoring with ten minutes on the clock when Joe Arundel took a tipped back Ben Jones-Bishop ball off a Liam Finn kick to ground in the corner. Liam Finn was unable to add the touchline conversion but the home sides supporters were quietened.
A sensational second Trinity try from Jacob Miller extended the lead when he got fingertips on a pinpoint Finn grubber, a split second before it rolled dead in goal. Watts made no mistakes with the kick for 10-0.
Hull opened their account on twenty-seven when Mahe Fonua leapt to collect a Marc Sneyd high kick to the corner, spin out of the attempted tackle, and drop over the line. Sneyd added the conversion from wide right to reduce the arrears to just four points.
FC did well to deny David Fifita a try five minutes from the end of the half when he was dragged dead in goal but on thirty-eight a Bill Tupou break saw him offload to Miller, but when the Trinity half-back was tackled short of the line Jamie Shaul held on for too long and was sin-binned. Finn kicked the resulting penalty for a 12-6 half time lead to the visitors.
A moment of brilliance from Marc Sneyd levelled the scores on forty-eight when he darted through a gap and ran the angle for thirty metres before being carried over the line by Mason Caton-Brown and grounding the ball as he rolled over the line. He converted his own try for 12-12.
Hull were starting to dominate the game and appeared to take the lead on fifty-seven but an obstruction by Watts in the build up saw the try ruled out by the video referee.
A late challenge on the kicker by Trinity on sixty-four gave Sneyd an invitation to kick a two point penalty for the lead, but he slid his effort wide of the woodwork.
An awful Jones-Bishop error fielding a kick through on sixty-nine gifted FC possession. Four tackles into a second consecutive set of six Gareth Ellis, on his last appearance at the KCOM, spun out of the tackle to ground. Sneyd was able to add the extras and the lead was six points at 18-12.
On seventy five Hull marched down field through a tired Trinity defence, engineered a position for Marc Sneyd, and saw him slot over the one-pointer.
But Wakefield werent finished. After back to back penalties the ball was moved left and Caton-Brown went in on the overlap to ground one-handed in the left corner. Finn added the conversion and the sides were separated by just a point with two minutes on the clock.
Finn had a drop goal attempt charged down on seventy-nine and missed a second attempt with twenty seconds left on the clock to crush the visitors and put FC into the box seat in the quest for the final two play-off places.
This was a nervy eighty minutes from two sides who knew its importance. Hull held their nerve and a Sneyd drop goal was all that separated them as the final hooter sounded.
Should Wigan win their game at home to Castleford on Sunday afternoon then Hull and Wigan will be confirmed as the other two top four sides, should they lose then it will be a nailbiting last round for all concerned.
FC: Shaul (SB), Fonua (T), Michaels, Tuimavave, Griffin, Kelly, Sneyd (T, 3G, DG), Taylor, Houghton, Watts, Washbrook, Minichiello, Ellis (T). Subs: Bowden, Fash, Thompson, Connor.
Trinity: Grix, Jones-Bishop, Arundel (T), Tupou, Caton-Brown, Miller (2T), Finn (3G), England, Randell, Huby, Ashurst, Kirmond, Arona. Subs: Wood, Fifita, Annakin, Hasson.
Referee: Phil Bentham.