Hull FC secured a precious 31-24 victory to leapfrog neighbours Hull KR into the top eight of the First Utility Super League but they were pushed all the way by an impressive Wakefield Trinity Wildcats side who belied their lowly position with a superb performance.
But for a magnificent display from skipper Gareth Ellis, Hull might have been handed a second defeat in five days by Super League’s bottom club.
Wakefield coach Brian Smith opted to bring in nine fresh faces despite their 26-16 win over the Black and Whites in midweek and will now be facing a selection dilemma for next Sunday’s clash with younger brother Tony’s Warrington after most of them caught the eye.
Full-back Max Jowitt, who is just 18, impressed on his second senior appearance while second rower Matty Ashurst, who had been out for three months with a torn groin, made his mark in the second minute, dummying his way over for his third try in as many appearances for the club.
Jacob Miller, one of five former Hull players in the visitors’ starting line-up, kicked the first of his four goals and his half-back partner Jordan Tansey added a second try after twice hacking the ball ahead in an 80-metre sprint to the line to take advantage of a poor pass from Marc Sneyd.
Hull could not match the enthusiasm of their revitalised opponents but, with half-backs Sneyd and Leon Pryce back in harness, they always looked dangerous with the ball.
Loose forward Joe Westerman showed his class to score the home side’s first try and the evergreen Ellis produced a superb offload for winger Steve Michaels to get his centre Jack Logan over for a second.
Miller extended his side’s lead with a penalty but when Michaels came up with a flying finish at the corner on 32 minutes, Hull were level at 14-14 and second rower Setaimata Sa was held up over the line before Sneyd edged his team in front for the first time with a penalty on the stroke of half-time.
Hull looked likely to run away with it when Logan grabbed his second four minutes into the second half, touching down a loose ball after Wakefield winger Tom Johnstone failed to clear the danger caused by another accurate Sneyd kick, and the scrum-half kicked his third goal to make it 22-14.
A remarkable jinking run from prop Mickey Paea then carved out a try for full-back Jordan Rankin but each time Wakefield responded with sublime tries of their own.
Former Hull centre Reece Lyne raced onto a clever grubber kick from substitute Ali Lauitiiti, another of the team’s comeback heroes who also set up the position for Johnsone to go over on an overlap.
Miller had the chance to tie the scores but he was off target with the boot for the first time as the game teetered in the balance.
The decisive moment came on the hour when Johnstone raced upfield after collecting a towering kick near his own line and only a last-ditch tackle from Rankin denied him a glorious try.
Three minutes later Ellis opened up the Wakefield defence with another magnificent offload and Logan sent Michaels over for his second try.
Sneyd was off target for a fourth time in seven attempts at goal but he hit the spot with a drop goal to wrap up the scoring.
Hull: Rankin, Lineham, Talanoa, Logan, Michaels, Pryce, Sneyd, Paea, Houghton, Watts, Ellis, Sa, Westerman. Subs: Green, Paleaaesina, Bowden, Thompson.
Wakefield: Jowitt, Johnstone, Arundel, Lyne, Riley, Tansey, Miller, Kavanagh, Howarth, Walker, Ryan, Ashurst, Sio. Subs: Crowther, McShane, Lauitiiti, D. Smith.
Referee: Chris Leatherbarrow (RFL).