Mitieli Vulikijapani scored a hat-trick on his return from injury as Hull FC Reserves ran in eleven tries to defeat a young Warrington Wolves Reserves outfit 60-10 at Victoria Park on Saturday afternoon.
With Newcastle Thunder in Challenge Cup action, Connor Wynne and Denive Balmforth were also on the scoresheet for the Black & Whites as they returned to Hull FC action for the weekend, alongside Matty Laidlaw.
Zach Jebson claimed his first brace of the year, whilst there were also tries for Kye Armstrong, Manoa Wacokecoke and Jude Ferreira as Hull moved to the top of the Reserves Championship table.
Having established some early pressure through an encouraging start, Hull were the ones who found themselves behind inside ten minutes. Warrington had weathered the initial storm and hit the front as Aiden Doolan threw a big show-and-go to dive over from dummy half.
The visitors got the perfect response after forcing a Wire error following the restart. Nice set play led to Hull’s first points of the afternoon, with Armstrong driving over from close range.
Harvey Barron, who has scored hat-tricks in both of his appearances for the Reserves this season, thought he was about to open his account for the afternoon when he latched onto a looping Darnell McIntosh pass and stepped past his opposite number. Despite being held up short of the try line, Wynne was on hand to bulldoze over from dummy half to give the Black & Whites the lead.
Leon Stewart thought he had FC’s third try of the match when he desperately pounced on a bouncing ball in the in-goal area, but the referee adjudged the ball had been grounded on the dead-ball line.
A slice of fortune meant that was academic, however. Sully Medforth’s kick ricocheted off two Warrington players and popped up into the grateful hands of Wynne, who raced in to score his second of the match.
Wynne then turned provider just over twenty minutes in when Vulikijapani supported his lateral run. The Fijian latched onto a fired flat pass to pierce through the defensive line and score beneath the posts.
Back-to-back penalties offered Warrington an opportunity to get back into the contest and Dylon Braddish’s diving finish in the left corner was just the tonic for the Wolves.
But the ten-point gap didn’t last for long. Hull were back in the ascendency as far as the territorial battle was concerned, and Vulikijapani once again ran a perfect line to coast through after taking Balmforth’s glorious pass under his spell.
HALF-TIME: Wolves Reserves 10-26 Hull Reserves
Sully Medforth, whose kick in the first-half almost resulted in a try for Stewart, was causing more havoc with the boot early on in the second-half. Barron rose above all to catch it on the full, offloading to the supporting Jebson, who still had to show some toe to race past the fullback to score in the right corner.
That try just after the break appeared to knock any remaining confidence that Warrington had in reserve, as FC quickly ran in a seventh try of the afternoon – perhaps the pick of the bunch. Vulikijapani contributed some outstanding support play down the middle of the field to break through, and he had Balmforth on his left shoulder, with the youngster crossing for his first try of the day.
Medforth was back amongst the action with some twinkle-toes on the halfway line. He had Jebson in support, and the back-rower had just enough power to claim his brace, using the post pad to his aid.
In similar merciless fashion to their previous two wins in 2023, Hull continued to add to their points tally. This time, McIntosh’s kick to the left corner was claimed convincingly by Wacokecoke, who simply had to land in the in-goal area to continue his fine run of scoring form.
Finishing with a flourish, the Black & Whites registered a further two tries at Victoria Park. First, Ferreira ran a short lead off McIntosh’s left shoulder to bundle over. That was before the fullback caught a Lewis Hughes kick in the in-goal area, raced up to the 20 metre mark to tap the ball and sent Vulikijapani the rest of the way to secure a hat-trick in the closing stages.
FULL-TIME: Wolves Reserves 10-60 Hull Reserves
Squads & Scorers
Hull: McIntosh, Barron, Wynne, Vulikijapani, Wacokecoke, Medforth, Balmforth, Brown, Hodgson, Gardiner, Jebson, Stewart, Armstrong
Hull Interchanges: Bursell, Ferreira, Laidlaw, Moy
Hull Tries: Armstrong, Wynne (2), Vulikijapani (3), Jebson (2), Balmforth, Wacokecoke, Ferreira
Hull Goals: Medforth (0/1), McIntosh (1/2), Balmforth (7/8)
Wolves: Booth, Thewlis, Smith, Bardsley-Rowe, Braddish, Hughes, Hayes, Shingler, Doolan, Reddecliff, Antrobus, Tupaea, Marshall
Wolves Interchanges: Bajer, Green, Reid, Whalley
Wolves Tries: Doolan, Braddish
Wolves Goals: Hayes (1/2)