St. Helens stretched their lead at the top of the table to eight points with a 34-18 win over Hull FC at the KCOM Stadium on Friday night. Read the match report here:
The Black & Whites flew out of the blocks with a score in the opening minute of the game. Bureta Faraimo raced down Hull’s right edge and battled his way over the try-line to give his side an early advantage.
Hull continued their fast start and thought they had touched down again just minutes later, but the returning Jansin Turgut was held up over the line.
The league leaders were soon to hit back though, claiming a try the first time they attacked the Hull line. Earning a repeat set in the FC half thanks to a charge down from Dean Hadley, the Saints sent the ball wide to Tommy Makinson who dived over in the corner.
Lee Radford’s men looked to have immediately hit back when Jake Connor pounced on a spilled ball to seemingly touch down under the posts, but the referee called the play back for an obstruction.
Saints took the lead for the first time in the contest with ten minutes remaining in the half. Super League top scorer Ben Barba took on the Hull FC line straight from the scrum, and had the strength to force his way over against the Airlie Birds defenders in the corner, Richardson converted.
However, Faraimo’s second of the game, which came after a brilliant take from a high ball, brought Lee Radford’s men back within two points heading into the break.
Hull got the scoring underway in the second forty through Turgut, who wasn’t to be denied for a second time, as he made the most of a stretched defence to stroll over.
The home side then extended their lead when stand-off Albert Kelly stepped through the defence to score before Hakim Miloudi’s conversion made it a two-score lead.
But, the Saints started their fightback soon after when Barba grabbed his second of the game on the back of some great work from James Roby and Jonny Lomax.
Lomax then got the first of his brace when a briliant Roby pass sent him over to tie things up, and seven minutes later the Englishman broke through, fooled the defence with two dummies and then held off the covering tacklers to complete his double.
A further two tries from Adam Swift and Luke Thompson in the final ten minutes of the game secured the points for the Saints as they won the Steve Prescott Cup.
WHAT WE’VE LEARNED
Saints are unstoppable
After coming from behind against a Hull FC side that were looking for their first win in two games, the Saints once again showed the strength and character that has carried them to 12 consecutive wins over the last three months.
After Wigan’s loss to Huddersfield, the victory in East Yorkshire extends their lead at the top to eight points, making their grip on the League Leaders’ Shield even tighter and further showing their dominance in 2018.
The Black and Whites aren’t gaining momentum
Despite taking the lead early on and just before half time, Hull FC couldn’t hold on and showed no signs of getting back into the match when Justin Holbrook’s side got on the front foot.
They have already secured a spot in the Super 8s, so it’s possible they are saving themselves for the next stage of the season, but their form in recent weeks may be a worry for their fans heading into the business end of the year.
Man of the Match – Ben Barba (St Helens)
The Australian full-back once again showed us the talent he possesses as he grabbed another brace and had a huge impact on the game and result.
He is now up to a very impressive 22 tries and 22 try assists, a record nobody comes close to matching. With Barba in the team, it’s hard to see anybody stopping this St. Helens outfit.
Hull FC – 18
Tries: Faraimo, Turgut, Kelly.
Drop Goals: n/a
St Helens – 34
Tries: Makinson, Barba 2, Lomax 2, Swift, Thompson.
Goals: Richardson 3.
Drop Goals: n/a
Hull FC: Miloudi, Faraimo, Connor, Tuimavave, Logan, Kelly, Abdull, Taylor, Houghton, Green, Turgut, Minichiello, Hadley.
Replacements: Paea, Matongo, Lane, Downs.
St Helens: Barba, Swift, Makinson, Percival, Grace, Lomax, Richardson, Amor, Roby, Thompson, Peyroux, Taia, Wilkin.
Replacements: Fages, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Douglas, Knowles.
Referee: Liam Moore