With the start of the 2017 season looming on the horizon we got the chance to take a look at Rugby League's newest side, Toronto Wolfpack. The side who will enter Championship One in a few weeks time were in Hull to take on the Challenge Cup holders as they continued their preparation for Superleague.
It was a chance for Paul Rowley to test his new charges against a Hull side tipped to be pushing for major honours again in 2017, with Lee Radford likely to try a few interchanges if things were going their way.
After withstanding early pressure as FC dominated the opening ten minutes it was the Wolfpack who opened the scoring when Blake Wallace took full advantage of back to back penalties to crash over by the right hand upright. Ex-Hull darling Craig Hall added the conversion for a 6-0 lead.
On sixteen, Hull struck back with a superb Albert Kelly try who went eighty metres down the right wing off a Carlos Tuimavave break and pass. Marc Sneyd was thwarted by the upright with his conversion attempt.
FC hit the front with a Jamie Shaul try off a Chris Green offload in the tackle. Fleet of foot, the Hull full back went thirty metres to score. Sneyd added the extras for 10-6 to the home side.
After a twenty-fourth minute Wolfpack ball steal, Mahe Fonua went five metres from first receiver and proved unstoppable. Sneyd was again accurate with the boot for 16-6.
Fresh from the bench, Fuifui Moimoi charged down the centre to score under the sticks and when Hall added the extras the margin was reduced back to just four points.
But within a couple of minutes a neat cross-field passing move found Fonua on the overlap to again score by the right corner flag. Sneyd missed the extras but it was more comfortable for Hull with a 20-12 lead.
Bob Beswick was held up over the line in the dying seconds and the home side took their eight point lead into the interval.
After a brief stoppage for an injury straight after the resart, Jonny Pownall scored a superb one-handed try on forty-two minutes, diving in by the right corner flag, to give the Wolfpack first points of the second half. Hall missed the conversion but the FC lead was pegged back to four.
On forty-nine Liam Kay levelled the scores when he found space off a long Quentin Togaga'e pass to step inside and between two tacklers to ground. Hall again failed to convert, leaving the sides all tied up at 20-20.
As the hour approached Nick Rawsthorne benefitted from a sloppy Wolfpack offload to take a pass and sprint down the left wing to score in the corner. Sneyd converted brilliantly from the touchline for 26-20.
Toronto bombed a gilt-edged chance on seventh-six when James Laithwaite passed the ball to Hull close to their opponents line, despite having five tackles remaining. FC finished the game on the attack to seal a hard-fought 26-20 win.
Toronto Wolfpack were definitely not overawed by either the situation or their opponents. Some pre-season rustiness was on show from both sides, but the newcomers will have given some concern to their League One opponents for the forthcoming season. Both sides defended well, with just the odd gap letting in the tries.
The Toronto Wolfpack owner, CEO and management will doubtless be delighted at their first competitive outing.
FC: Shaul (T), Fonua (2T), Tuimavave, Griffin, Talanoa, Kelly (T), Sneyd (3G), Green, Hadley, Watts, Washbrook, Lane, Thompson. Subs: Matongo, Fash, Michaels, Turgut, Naughton, Rawsthorne (T), Bower, Wray, Litten, Sanderson.
Wolfpack: Togaga'e, Pownall (T), Hall (2G), Worthington, Kay (T), Wallace (T), Jacks, Sidlow, Beswick, Emmitt, Dixon, Laithwaite, Bussey. Subs: Fleming, Burroughs, Pick, Crossley, Menzies, Dempsey, Dean, Moimoi (T).
Referee: Liam Staveley.