Hull FC produced a gritty, battling performance at the Totally Wicked Stadium, but couldn’t quite take the spoils in a competitive affair against St Helens.
The Black & Whites had their chances and defended bravely, but weren’t able to take the two points, going down by ten points to the World Champions.
Hull almost snatched victory at the death, but a bouncing ball evaded Brad Dwyer, as tries from Scott Taylor & Jake Clifford weren’t quite enough after a resolute defensive performance.
Tony Smith made two changes to his side for the clash at the Totally Wicked Stadium, with Davy Litten making his first appearance of the season on the wing and Joe Cator returning from a shoulder injury that kept him sidelined for the last two matches, taking the place of Darnell McIntosh and Kane Evans respectively.
Hull’s other change to the matchday side came as Jack Brown started a match for the first time since July, alongside Chris Satae in the front row, as Scott Taylor moved to the interchange bench.
Hull remained without Carlos Tuimavave (Achillies), Liam Sutcliffe (knock), Ben McNamara (shoulder), Jake Trueman (knee) and Charlie Severs (shoulder).
Pail Wellens made just one change to the Saints side that was beaten last week by Leigh Leopards, as Curtis Sironen returned in the back row in place of youngster Sam Royle.
There was just one other change to the World Champions’ team as Alex Walmsley started in the front row in place of Iggy Paasi as the Tongan international came from the interchange bench.
Wellens was forced into a late change to his team as Mark Percival dropped out in the warm up, with Tee Ritson taking his place. That forced a reshuffle for St Helens, with Tommy Makinson moving to left centre from his customary right wing position which was filled by the former Barrow flyer.
A much improved first half performance from Hull saw the game scoreless until the final play of the first half.
Hull were more than a match for the hosts in a half that saw the Black & Whites go close on a numebr of occasions before a short goalline drop out in the final minute of the half backfired and saw Ben Davies duck out of a tackle and score in the corner for the half’s only points.
The match began brightly for the Airlie Birds, as Cam Scott went closest in the opening exchagnes after running a nice line on the right hand side before he was hauled down just shy of the Saints line.
On the next play Hull went close through Adam Swift but the wingman was forced into touch on his old stomping ground.
St Helens had the next chance of the match, threating the Hull line, but an aggressive challenge from Andre Savelio forced the ball from Matty Lees grasp and Hull defend their goalline.
Hull worked their way downfield, and forced a goal line drop out with a nice gruber kick from the energetic Joe Lovodua, Davy Litten and Cam Scott following through in support to force Jon Bennison in goal.
St Helens went close through Ben Davies, but excellent defensive work from Adam Swift and Josh Griffin prevented the ball touching the line.
Hull were then held up twice from dummy half in the ensuing exchanges, first as Andre Savelio tried to catch the Saints defence napping before Josh Griffin bumped off Tee Ritson on the left side, but support came from the inside and prevented the captain from rounding the ball just inches from the floor.
Saints had the best of the final moments of the half, forcing a goal line drop out and then set restarts as Jake Clifford then Cam Scott pressured the Champions attacking line.
In the final minute Saints earned a drop out from a Lewis Dodd grubber. Jake Clifford aimed for Josh Griffin, the ball just eluding Griffin and Ben Davies had the presence of mind to duck out of the tackle and score the games’ opening points, with Tommy Makinson unsuccessful with his conversion attempt from out wide.
Half Time: St Helens 4 – 0 Hull FC
Hull started the second half the brighter of the two sides, earning their first, penalty of the evening for a high tackle coming out of yardage.
After playing quickly for a set a set restart was awarded for laying on in the tackle on Brad Fash, and Brad Dwyer went close, held just shy of the line. Scott Taylor, however wasn‘t to be stopped, wriggling free in a tackle to do what Griffin couldn’t in the first half and find the floor with the ball.
Hull continued brightly, but a pair of penalties conceded mounted the pressure on the Hull line.
Although the Black & Whites put Tee Ritson into touch near the line, play was brought back for a Saints scrum after an Adam Swift knock on, and the Champions made the pressure count, scoring on the first tackle as Jon Bennison stepped inside the covering Hull defence to score.
Before Hull had chance to pressure again Saints struck.
James Bell and Jack Welsby set up a play on the Hull right, Bell turning in contact and passing basketball style to Welsby as he wrapped around to score out wide, with Joey Lussick converting for the second time on the night.
However, Hull didn’t let their heads drop, Chris Satae and Brad Dwyer combining in a tackle to force the ball free, and Jake Clifford raced 30 meters to score next to the posts to reduce the deficit to four points.
Hull almost snatched it at the death, as Josh Griffin put in a clever kick for Adam Swift. Swift in turn kicked for Brad Dwyer, but the ball wouldn’t bounce up for the hooker and with the line at his mercy he knocked on.
St Helens pounced on the missed opportunity, scoring from the resulting seven tackle set on the last play through Jon Bennison, who squeezed in at the corner to round off Saints victory.
Full Time: St Helens 20- 12 Hull FC
The Line Ups:
St Helens:Jack Welsby, Tee Ritson, Ben Davies, Tommy Makinson, Jon Bennison, Jonny Lomas, Lewis Dodd, Alex Walmsley, James Roby, Matty Lees, James Bell, Curtis Sironen, Morgan Knowles | Joey Lussick, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Iggy Paasi, Jake Wingfield | Sam Royle
Hull FC: Tex Hoy, Adam Swift, Josh Griffin, Cam Scott, Davy Litten, Joe Lovodua, Jake Clifford, Jack Brown, Danny Houghton, Chris Satae, Ligi Sao, Andre Savelio, Brad Fash | Jordan Lane, Joe Cator, Scott Taylor, Brad Dwyer | Will Gardiner
St Helens:Ben Davies, Jon Bennison (2), Jack Welsby | Tommy Makinson (0/1), Joey Lusick (2/2), Lewis Dodd (0/1)
Hull FC: Scott Taylor | Jake Clifford (1/1)
Peregrine Property Man of the Match: Jake Clifford