Wakefield Trinity Wildcats saw their chances of returning to Wembley 50 years on from last lifting the Challenge Cup ended at Hull FC on Friday night.
This weekend marks the 50th anniversary of Wakefield’s 1963 Challenge Cup final success but there was to be no fairy tale triumph at the KC Stadium as the Black and Whites ended Wildcats’ cup hopes with a 24-6 victory.
The stats will show a fairly even contest but Peter Gentle’s side were more clinical in their attack and stubborn in defence.
Three tries in five first-half minutes proved crucial for the hosts, while former Wildcat Gareth Ellis scored his first try since returning to Super League and Jay Pitts, another former Wakefield man, added a brace.
Wakefield were without Justin Poore, who missed out through an ankle injury, while Lee Smith continued at full-back with Richie Mathers not ready to return. Kyle Wood continued at stand-off and Reece Lyne featured against his former club at centre. Jon Molloy made his first Super League appearance for Wildcats from the bench.
There was little between the sides in an opening 15 minutes which brought little in the way of entertainment for the near-8000 in attendance at the KC Stadium.
That was until Richard Horne unlocked the Wakefield defence, spotting a gap to cruise through and score the opening try of the match. Daniel Holdsworth tagged on the extras.
It sparked life into the hosts and from the kick-off Hull scored again from the next set. Full-back Shannon McDonnell was the architect, weaving his way across the Wakefield line before putting Ellis in for his first Black and Whites try.
Hull enjoyed a purple patch and went for the jugular. Three minutes later Tom Briscoe dinked the ball through for Kirk Yeaman to touchdown with ease. Holdsworth made it 16-0 with the boot.
Wildcats needed to find a way back into the tie and they enjoyed a good five minute spell of pressure in reply, aided by forcing Hull into a goal line drop-out and a penalty for an infringement on Lee Smith, but could not make it count.
Paul Aiton was stopped short of the line but that was as close as Wildcats came to getting on the scoresheet before Danny Kirmond spilled the ball and FC regained possession.
Tom Briscoe thought he had added a fourth try out wide for the Airlie Birds but the referee chalked it off for the winger being in-touch.
At the other end, Lee Smith had a good opportunity to get Ben Cockayne away down the left but his poor pass saw the former Hull KR man spill the ball out play to the delight of the home fans.
Wildcats needed a strong start to the second half to stay in the contest and got one but couldn’t turn their pressure into points. A couple of penalties helped the visitors to within 10 yards of the FC line and Paul Aiton was stopped agonisingly close before Kyle Wood was also thwarted with a fine tackle on the last.
It was all Wildcats pressure-wise but Agar’s men were hit with a sucker-punch 15 minutes into the second half. The impressive Horne broke clear in Hull’s first attack since the resumption and fed Pitts to cross for FC’s fourth try.
Wakefield were given some hope of a comeback just before the hour mark when they managed to post their first points of the match. Brute strength from Ali Lauitiiti saw him over the line and Lee Smith converted.
Smith thought he had scored a try of his own with 12 minutes to play, as did the Wakefield fans behind the sticks, but the officials waved play on and Hull averted the pressure.
It was the turn of the home supporters to feel aggrieved by a decision minutes later when winger Tom Lineham got over the line on the right but the effort was disallowed for a forward pass.
Wildcats could not unlock the Hull defence for a second time and Pitts put the icing on the Hull cake with his second try of the night to complete the scoring.
Hull FC: McDonnell, Lineham, Crooks, Yeaman, Briscoe, Holdsworth, Horne, O’Meley, Houghton, Watts, Ellis, Whiting, Pitts. Subs: Lynch, Johnson, Heremaia, Green.
Wildcats: L Smith, Fox, Collis, Lyne, Cockayne, Wood, T Smith, Wilkes, Aiton, Raleigh, Lauitiiti, Kirmond, Washbrook. Subs: Amor, Mellars, Annakin, Molloy.
Referee: Tim Roby.