The best thing about history is that more than not it usually repeats itself, and for Hull FC it did just that, with immortality now awaiting this special squad.
What a team. The Black and Whites were incredible to finally defeat Wigan at Wembley. The history makers, and 18-14 winners over the frequent nemesis that they’re going to Australia with next season.
An incredible effort, the same tension that we all unbearably sat through last season came to the fore again. It was still in the balance until the final whistle. A great Challenge Cup final, a showpiece filled with brilliance, spirit and a never say die attitude from both sides.
We talk about history, and boy is there some history between these two clubs. Hull owed Wigan one. Losers to the Cherry and Whites at Wembley in 1959, 1985 and most recently in 2013, there was a score to be settled. It was always going to be a tough ask but this is a Hull side that is fazed by no challenge, one that can overcome adversity and perform when it matters. It is without no doubt a magnificent side, put together by Lee Radford, and one that twenty years down the line we’ll be talking up as one of the, if not the greatest, Hull sides.
It’s a team game, and every one of those seventeen heroes played their part in a magnificent final, as did Wigan, but blimey, take a bow Marc Sneyd. One of the best half back displays in living memory, he ran the show. Sneyd’s kicking was sublime, it caused Wigan havoc, with his running and distribution also superb. Winning the Lance Todd trophy for the second year in a row, he deserves every plaudit he gets. A special player that is the heartbeat of this Hull team, and alongside Albert Kelly, a half back partnership that has the potential to go on and win even more silverware.
Mahe Fonua also shook off his recent indifferent Super League form and produced a masterclass. Brilliant under the high bomb, his two tries alone went a huge way to securing a second successive Wembley triumph. Wing partner Fetuli Talanoa also played his part, and from fullback Jamie Shaul was perfect in a faultless display.
Liam Watts again excelled – he was magnificent, as was Scott Taylor, and fellow middle unit Gareth Ellis. Sika Manu had his moments. Mark Minichiello put in a right shift. It was a team contribution though and every one of those players played their part.
Wigan also proved stern opposition. We knew they would put up a fight. It’s the Wigan way. The Shaun Wane way. They did just that. Battling until the final whistle. But it was Hull’s day.
A final which captivated your emotions again, and a spectacle that swayed one way or another got you on the edge of your seat. Superb stuff. Wigan took an early lead as John Bateman collected Anthony Gelling’s pass to crash over, but Hull responded in heroic fashion.
Sneyd, dictating play, found Talanoa with a pin point kick, and the Tongan made no mistake in grounding the ball. Another Sneyd kick was then batted down by Kelly, with Fonua scoring the first of his brace. Sneyd kicked both conversions, before Wigan hit back before the break with a trademark right to left shift, Oliver Gildart the scorer, with Hull taking a 12-10 lead into half time.
Essential that they carried on in the ascendancy Hull had all the field position in the second half. They camped on Wigan’s line. Opportunities went by but eventually the Warriors cracked. A mesmerising offload from Kelly, a miracle ball, found Fonua who finished superbly, and after Sneyd nailed the touch line conversion, Hull were eight points up and looking good.
Wigan though are built of stern stuff. Joe Burgess managed to touch down after direct passes from Sean O’Loughlin and Liam Farrell, and the game then went right down to the wire. Tense, nervous and nail biting stuff, Hull had to be resilient in defence, and as a unit they were.
Burgess looked to have won Wigan the game in the final minute, but George Williams’ pass was rightly ruled forward. One of those moments that saw the emotion go from agony to ecstasy in a few short seconds. It was at that point FC’s fans knew the job was done.
Hull then eased the game out in the final set to record successive Challenge Cup wins at Wembley. They waited 57 years to get their first one – now they two in two years.
Hull Starting XIII: 1. Jamie Shaul, 2. Mahe Fonua, 3. Carlos Tuimavave, 4. Josh Griffin, 5. Fetuli Talanoa, 6. Albert Kelly, 7. Marc Sneyd, 8. Scott Taylor, 9. Danny Houghton, 10. Liam Watts, 21. Sika Manu, 12. Mark Minichiello, 13. Gareth Ellis. Interchange: 15. Chris Green, 22. Josh Bowden, 17. Danny Washbrook, 14. Jake Connor.
Hull Tries: Talanoa, Fonua 2. Goals: Sneyd 3/3.
Wigan Starting XIII: 1. Sam Tomkins, 35. Liam Marshall, 3. Anthony Gelling, 4. Oliver Gildart, 5. Joe Burgess, 6. George Williams. 7. Matty Smith, 8. Frank Paul Nuuausala, 9. Michael McIllorum, 15. Tony Clubb, 14. John Bateman, 12. Liam Farrell, 13. Sean O’Loughlin. Interchange: 20. Willie Isa, 19. Ryan Sutton, 16. Sam Powell. 17. Taulima Tautai.
Wigan Tries: Bateman, Gildart, Burgess. Goals: Williams.
Scoring System: 0-6, 6-6, 12-6, 12-10, 18-10, 18-14.
Referee: Phil Bentham (legend)