Image Copyright: Hull FC Super League Ltd.
ST HELENS 34-22 HULL FC
By | 21/02/2014
Hull FC were on the wrong end of a strong second half performance from St Helens as the Black and Whites lost the first leg of the inaugural Steve Prescott Cup 34-22 at Langtree Park.
Hull started strongly and opened the scoring in the third minute through Mickey Paea but James Roby responded almost instantly to give the home side a slender 6-4 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Richard Whiting was the next over in an enthralling encounter to put the Black and Whites 10-6 in front at half-time, Joe Westerman again at the heart of the attack, but Saints turned the match on its head after the break with three tries in 20 minutes.
Lee Radford’s men responded with a score for skipper Gareth Ellis to restore hope but late tries from Tommy Makinson and Mark Percival sealed it, although Danny Houghton had the final say with a well-worked try on the hooter.
Contesting the inaugural Steve Prescott Cup following the former St Helens and Hull full back’s sad passing in the off season, the two sides collided at Langtree Park following victories in the opening round of Super League XIX.
The Black and Whites made one change to the side which beat Catalan Dragons 36-34 at the KC Stadium as centre Kirk Yeaman missed out with a minor niggle, his place on the left flank taken by the returning Joe Arundel.
Saints boss Nathan Brown kept faith with the squad which inflicted a 38-8 defeat on Warrington Wolves last time out and with both teams picking up where they left off in attack in the opening round, it proved to be a frantic start to the contest with two tries inside eight minutes.
Hull were the first to strike when Mickey Paea sent Joe Westerman bursting clear with a short pass on half way and although the loose forward was tackled just short, Paea was on hand to crash over from the resulting conversion.
Crooks missed the conversion and when Jamie Shaul made a mess of the ensuing kick-off, Saints responded when hooker James Roby crossed from close range, scrum half Luke Walsh adding the extras to put the home side 6-4 ahead.
Chances came and went at either end as the game settled down for the remainder of the first quarter before Hull hit back to regain the advantage 15 minutes before half-time.
Westerman was at the heart of the move once again as he stole the ball off former Hull forward Willie Manu in midfield before jinking across the defensive line later in the set to put Richard Whiting over with a superb offload out of the tackle.
This time, Crooks was on target to put the Black and Whites 10-6 in front and that’s the way it remained at the break until the hosts turned the game on its head shortly after the interval.
Aided by a penalty coming out of their own half, the Saints marched downfield for Roby to put substitute Sia Soliola over after Hull were caught short of numbers on the blindside in just their second set of the half. Ten minutes later, full back Jonny Lomax touched down a Walsh grubber kick after more pressure on the FC goal line and the game was suddenly running away from Lee Radford’s men at 18-10.
Unable to find a foothold in the game with errors and penalties counting against them, the Black and Whites needed a response but instead a knock on from Paea coming off his own line gave Roby the field position to pounce for his second of the match.
Walsh maintained his 100 per cent record with the boot in Super League following his close season move from Penrith Panthers but Hull finally mustered a response at the other end with their first raid into opposition territory. Buoyed by back-to-back penalties, Aaron Heremaia was the creator as he put Gareth Ellis through a hole in the St Helens defence, Crooks converting to cut the gap to 24-16.
The fight back was short-lived, however, as winger Tommy Makinson flew in at the corner after more indiscipline from Hull, Walsh finally missing with his goal attempt, but it mattered little as Mark Percival sealed it for Saints when he crossed out wide three minutes from time.
There was still time for Hull to register their fourth try of the match as Richard Horne put Aaron Heremaia clear before sending Houghton over under the posts with a well-worked move in the final seconds. Crooks slotted over his third goal of the contest but it wasn’t enough to prevent a 34-22 defeat.
Lomax, Makinson, Turner, Percival, Swift, Wheeler, Walsh, Amor, Roby, Walmsley, Wilkin, Manu, McCarthy-Scarsbrook
Jones, Soliola, Laffranchi, Wellens
Roby (2), Soliola, Lomax, Makinson, Percival
Shaul, Lineham, Crooks, Arundel, Talanoa, Rankin, Horne, Paea, Houghton, Carvell, Ellis, Whiting, Westerman
Thompson, Bowden, Paleaaesina, Heremaia
Paea, Whiting, Ellis, Houghton