Rovers Gold: Hull Kingston Rovers 40-36 Warrington Wolves
When Hull Kingston Rovers met Warrington Wolves in the 2006 Challenge Cup quarter-final on a blisteringly hot day at Craven Park in June 2006, it was their 18th game of the season and they were defending an unbeaten record. Their priority was promotion, but this was an opportunity to test themselves against a top Super League side. Coach Justin Morgan named a full-strength side, and the Red & White majority in the 7,012 crowd were given an early boost when Wolves lost linchpin Lee Briers in the warm-up.
In a whirlwind start, the visitors were 10-0 up before Ben Fisher and Scott Murrell sent Ben Cockayne in for a try on 15 minutes. Five minutes later, Makali Aizue picked up a rebound to touch down and Gareth Morton’s conversion put the Robins ahead. The Wolves hit back to lead at 22-12 on the half hour, but James Webster set up tries for Byron Ford and Jon Goddard to send the Robins into the break with a 24-22 lead after a breath-taking 40 minutes.
There was no let-up in the second half either, and within 17 minutes of the restart, Rovers had scored four more tries – with Ford completing a hat-trick – to build a 40-26 lead. Morton unfortunately was unable to add any of the conversions, and it looked as if that might be costly when Wolves reduced the gap to 40-36 with still 13 minutes to go. In a nail-biting finale, both sides had their chances, but the Robins held out to secure a famous win.
Rovers were only the second National League side to reach the cup semi-final since the inception of Super League ten years earlier. Webster, with his brilliant kicking and astute passing, won the man-of-the-match award – but it was a magnificent team effort that justified Morgan’s pre-match confidence and gave the Robins a massive confidence boost for the challenge ahead.
The Rovers team that day was – Ben Cockayne; Jon Steel, Gareth Morton, Jon Goddard, Byron Ford; Scott Murrell, James Webster (capt); Makali Aizue, Ben Fisher, David Tangata-Toa, Iain Morrison, Michael Smith, Tommy Gallagher. Bench: Gareth Price, Sebastien Martins, Jason Netherton, Dwayne Barker
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