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Super League: Ben Crooks notches another hat-trick but Hull still lose to Wakefield
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Ben Crooks scored a hat-trick of tries for the second successive match but it was not enough to save Hull from a surprise home defeat to Wakefield.
The 20-year-old son of former Great Britain international Lee Crooks was on the losing side in his last match at Castleford despite scoring four tries, and his three on Monday night were also in vain as Wakefield finished strongly to secure a third straight win that keeps their play-off hopes alive.
Hull thought they had snatched a share of the spoils when centre Kirk Yeaman's 73rd-minute try tied the scores for a fourth time, but Wakefield centre Lee Smith won it with a drop goal in a dramatic finish.
It was sweet revenge by the Wildcats for two earlier defeats and will have delighted their former Hull boss Richard Agar.
It had started so promisingly for the home side, with hooker Danny Houghton and stand-off Daniel Holdsworth combining effectively to get Crooks over for his 17th try of the season after only three minutes. Holdsworth added the goal but Wakefield hit back with two tries in a seven-minute spell to take the lead.
Australian centre Dean Collis, who is enjoying a superb season, carved out an opening for winger Peter Fox to go over at the corner while stand-off Paul Sykes took a return pass from the impressive Lee Smith to grab the second.
Leading 10-6, the Wildcats did their best to surrender the lead with a host of handling errors and penalties that enabled their opponents to virtually camp inside the visitors' half.
They punished one error from Fox near his own line, when quick thinking by Houghton in moving the ball wide enabled home debutant Jacob Miller to work winger Tom Lineham over for a second try that levelled the scores.
But the Black and Whites were too disjointed to make the most of their lion's share of possession and Wakefield hit them on the counter-attack two minutes before the break to retake the lead.
Hooker Paul Aiton, returning to the side from suspension, fired out a pinpoint pass near the line for replacement prop Oliver Wilkes to stroll over for his side's third try and Lee Smith kicked his second goal to make it 16-10.
The scores were level once more seven minutes into the second half when Crooks scooped up a grubber kick from Wakefield scrum-half Tim Smith and sprinted 95 metres for his second try, although Wildcats captain Danny Kirmond deserved a huge amount of credit for getting back to make the tackle over the line.
Tickle landed the conversion after taking over the goalkicking duties and Hull, who lost Holdsworth with what looked like a hamstring injury, were back in front on 56 minutes when Crooks completed his hat-trick. An Ellis offload unnerved the Wakefield defence and Houghton worked the ball out wide, where Crooks produced another devastating finish.
Tickle's touchline conversion put Hull six points in front, but it was down to just two three minutes later when Lee Smith took Sykes' pass to score Wakefield's fourth try.
And the lead changed hands for a third time 11 minutes from the end, when a storming run down the middle by prop Kyle Amor set up the position for Fox to pluck the ball out of the air from Tim Smith's hoisted kick and score his second try.
Smith kicked his fourth goal to make it 26-22 but Hull gave themselves renewed hope when Ellis re-gathered possession from Miller's towering kick and got centre Kirk Yeaman over at the corner. Tickle had the chance to win it for his side but his kick went beyond the far post while Miller's 40-metre drop-goal attempt was charged down.
As the tension rose, Sykes was off target with a drop goal attempt, but Wakefield regained possession when full-back Shannon McDonnell lost the ball on his own 20-metre area and that presented Lee Smith with a glorious opportunity that he did not waste.
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Super League Table
|9||Hull K R||27||23|
|10||Salford Red Devils||27||23|
|13||Bradford Bulls *||27||10|
|First Utility Super League|
|Thursday 5th February|
|20:00||Widnes vs Wigan|
|Friday 6th February|
|20:00||St Helens vs Catalans Dragons|
|Saturday 7th February|
|15:00||Warrington Wolves vs Salford Red Devils|
|Sunday 8th February|
|15:00||Huddersfield vs Hull|
|15:00||Hull K R vs Leeds|
|15:30||Castleford vs Wakefield|
|Thursday 12th February|
|20:00||Salford vs St Helens|
|Friday 13th February|
|20:00||Hull vs Warrington|
|20:00||Leeds vs Widnes|
|20:00||Wigan vs Huddersfield|
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