‘He’s going home. He’s going home. He’s going. Joey’s going home.’ Probably one of the most famous Hull FC chants of the Super League era as once again in a winner takes all scenario John Kear’s Black and Whites took the spoils, hammering an Andrew Johns inspired Warrington side by 40 points to 6.
What a night. Hull were incredible. They had to be. Australian legend Johns, at the time the best player in the world, had took every newspaper headline in the lead up to the game, but his flirtation with British rugby league was abruptly over at the third obstacle – thanks to an Airlie Bird defensive masterclass.
Hull, already Challenge Cup winners after a famous 25-24 win over Leeds in Cardiff, were on fire. Defensively resolute, a first half hat-trick from Nathan Blacklock, allied to four further second half tries proved too much for even the great Joey Johns to come back from.
For the large majority of the game the Black and Whites had to withstand constant pressure as Warrington pounded them on early on. They had chances to score and even had an effort denied by the video ref, as Hull’s heroics held them out.
But it’s all about the taking of chances, and once Hull got their sniff, they didn’t let it go to waste. Paul Cooke’s booming pass, via delicate Stephen Kearney hands, put Blacklock in for his first try. Danny Brough missed the conversion, but added a penalty goal soon after.
Late in the half Chris Bridge spilt a Richard Horne bomb to gift Blacklock a second score, before the speedster winger intercepted an Andrew Johns pass to race eighty metres for his hat-trick try. Brough again converted for an 18-0 lead.
Warrington once more pounded Hull’s line early in the second half but both unbelievable and quite magnificent defence kept them out. A true testament to the resolute nature of John Kear’s Hull FC side, they were a tough nut to crack, and through Cooke’s sensational range of passing, at times devastating in attack.
Though eventually, and after repelling Wire for back to back sets, Hull’s defence finally cracked. With Horne in the sin bin Andrew Johns amended his earlier mistake, forcing his way over for a try which he duly converted.
At 18-6 going into the final quarter it was game on, but Horne’s re-introduction sparked Hull, with a brilliant Cooke pass sending Yeaman racing through, who swiftly passed to Chris Chester for the game-breaking try.
Brough converted, and that broke Warrington mentally. Kick Yeaman soon crossed himself for a sensational try, before Richard Whiting added a sixth score, with the gulf in class beginning to tell.
The significance and magnitude of the win was so massive, that even the great Richard Tingle couldn’t resist from giving the majority of the Hull players 10/10 ratings in his HDM report.
Hull reached a level that night that they’ve rarely reproduced since, and there was still time for winger Gareth Raynor to add the gloss to a famous elimination play-off victory late on with Hull’s seventh and final try, athough what happened the week after at Bradford is best left unmentioned!
Warrington Starting XIII: Brent Gross; Henry Fa’afili, Martin Gleeson, Tohe Kohe-Love, Chris Bridge; Lee Briers, Andrew Johns; Chris Leikvoll, Nathan Wood, Paul Wood; Logan Swann, Paul Noone, Jon Clarke. Interchange: Mark Gleeson, Ben Westwood, Mark Hilton, Danny Lima.
Warrington Tries: Johns. Goals: Johns
Hull Starting XIII: Tommy Saxton; Nathan Blacklock, Kirk Yeaman, Richard Whiting, Gareth Raynor; Richard Horne, Danny Brough; Ewan Dowes, Richard Swain, Gareth Carvell; Shayne McMenemy, Stephen Kearney, Paul Cooke. Interchange: Motu Tony, Paul King, Jamie Thackray, Chris Chester.
Hull Tries: Blacklock 3, Chester, Yeaman, Whiting, Raynor. Goals: Brough 6/8
Scoring System: 0-4 0-6, 0-12, 0-18, 6-18, 6-24, 6-30, 6-36, 6-40.
Referee: Ashely Klein