Hull rally to beat Warrington and end 74-year wait for Wembley glory
Hull ended a 74-year wait for a Wembley victory as they came from behind in dramatic fashion to beat favourites Warrington 12-10 in a classic final.
It is Hull's fourth Challenge Cup triumph but their first at the national stadium as the Wolves suffered their first defeat in four trips to Wembley under coach Tony Smith.
The agony looked set to continue for the Black and Whites when they trailed 10-0 after an hour but tries in the last 13 minutes from centre Mahe Fonua and full-back Jamie Shaul brought them level and half-back Marc Sneyd kicked the winning goal to settle a 114th Cup final that lived up to all the pre-match hype.
Sneyd was named the Lance Todd Trophy winner as man of the match, two years after being substituted in Castleford's defeat by Leeds, and his joy was in sharp contrast to Warrington's goalkicker Kurt Gidley, whose simple penalty miss early in the second half proved costly.
Gidley, who had done much to earn his side their 10-point cushion, kicked just one goal from three attempts and missed the last 22 minutes of the match with a head injury as the Wolves lost their way towards the end.
In a contest of epic twists and turns, Hull were indebted to hooker Danny Houghton's last-ditch tackle - his 52nd of the match - that denied Warrington second rower Ben Currie what looked like the match-winning try two minutes from the end.
That sparked unbridled scenes of joy as Hull skipper Gareth Ellis, like his good friend Kevin Sinfield two years earlier, got to lift the one piece of silverware to elude him up to this point in his distinguished career.
If Hull, held scoreless on their last trip to Wembley in 2013, were burdened by the weight of history, there were few signs early on with Sneyd's clever kicking game forcing the Wolves to do plenty of defending but, once his opposite number Chris Sandow began to find his feet, the momentum shifted.
The little Australian half-back put his side into a great attacking position with a 40-20 kick and then forced a goal-line drop-out as Hull increasingly found themselves on the back foot.
Centre Ryan Atkins went close on 25 minutes but it was from a Hull attack that Warrington eventually broke the deadlock seven minutes before the interval.
A reckless offload from substitute Frank Pritchard was seized on by Sandow and, after juggling with the ball, he went 75 metres before being hauled down agonisingly short of the line by Shaul.
However, Hull were unable to re-group in time to prevent winger Matty Russell evading the tackles of Fetuli Talanoa and the unfortunate Shaul to touch down for the opening try, which was goaled by Gidley.
Trailing 6-0 at the break, the game might have gone away from Hull at the start of the second half when Atkins stole the ball one-on-one from winger Steve Michaels 10 metres out from their line.
They compounded the error by conceding a penalty from the resultant tackle and Warrington would have increased their lead but for a surprise miss at goal by Gidley which eventually came back to haunt him.
The Black and Whites ought to have made the most of the let-off but they lacked composure at crucial times and they looked to have paid the price.
The busy Atkins was held up on his back after breaching the Hull defence on 52 minutes before lively hooker Daryl Clark demonstrated searing pace to go through a gap and send Currie over shortly afterwards for Warrington's second try.
Gidley failed to add the conversion and went off four minutes later with a cut face as the final underwent another twist.
Sneyd produced a magical 40-20 kick to get his side into the perfect attacking position and then came up with a pin-point lofted kick for Fonua to re-gather and score Hull's first try at Wembley for 147 minutes.
Sneyd added the difficult conversion to cut the deficit to four points and Hull almost drew level on 67 minutes when Warrington full-back Stefan Ratchford knocked the ball dead as Michaels chased Sneyd's kick to the corner.
The big moment then came on 70 minutes when Ratchford knocked on in the tackle in a sure sign of fatigue and Hull seized their chance to claim a famous victory.
Fonua was the first to another of Sneyd's teasing kicks and Shaul was on his inside to take the final pass and score his side's second try.
That levelled the scores and the 22,000 Hull fans would have happily put their mortgages on Sneyd kicking the conversion from in front of the posts. It was, of course, a formality as the half-back maintained his composure when it mattered.