It´s been one of those seasons for Hull FC where inconsistency has tarnished a good start and has seen them slip out of the play-off positions and into the bottom half of the table. A win in Round 23 of Super League was now crucial to see them back within shooting distance of the top six, the bad news was that they were facing the Champions as St Helens came into town.
Hull FC had been given a ten point start on the handicap coupon as the bookies favoured St Helens to collect another win which would put them a step closer to sealing the minor premiership. A win for FC wouldn´t alter their league position, but it would move them level with the Salford Red Devils and within a point of the Leeds Rhinos in sixth spot.
It would all come down to who was the hungriest for the win.
After being awarded a penalty on three minutes for a late hit, FC kicked for touch and then used the ball well with Jake Connor finding his full-back Jack Walker in support to be put over the line for a terrific start for the Black & Whites. Luke Gale added the conversion for a 6-0 lead.
Ellis Longstaff came close to grounding a grubber kick after FC had been awarded another penalty for a late tackle by the Saints defenders, Saints with a lucky escape.
Saints went over for their opener as Konrad Hurrell supplied Will Hopoate to run in under the sticks with a try that originated within their own half. With fifteen minutes on the clock Tommy Makinson added the extras to level the scores.
A ball steal by Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook gave FC the ball on the Saints line was quickly followed by a penalty for offside but after a sustained period of pressure the ball was flung into touch to give Saints some respite.
Saints went in at the corner on thirty minutes after what looked like a blatant forward pass from Hopoate to Makinson to dove over in the corner. The referee pointed to the spot as the home support howled their disgust. Makinson was unable to add the conversion, but the visitors had a 10-6 lead.
The third try from the Saints took just three minutes after the second with a delightful Jonny Lomax pass finding McCarthy-Scarsbrook to go in after great early work by Agnatius Paasi. This time Makinson was on target with the boot for 16-6, Saints taking control after absorbing the early onslaught, the regular pattern of Saints tactics.
Two minutes from the interval and it got a whole lot worse for FC as Hurrell was fed from the back of the scrum, the mighty centre crashing over the line from ten metres out. Makinson hit the post with his conversion attempt and with a 20-6 lead the Saints.
Saints weren´t finished for the half and with a couple of second to the hooter Morgan Knowles found McCarthy-Scarsbrook to go through a massive ga in the Airlie Birds defence for his second of the game. Makinson added the conversion, Saints now totally dominant.
The onslaught continued without abatement when on forty-three minutes Benjamin Davies threw the dummy before stepping inside to go over down the middle. Makinson was again on target for 32-6, the Black & Whites now broken and looking at a drubbing.
Within two minutes Hurrell carried three FC defenders with him over the line for his second try of the afternoon, Hull simply at the races. Makinson added his fifth goal of the game.
It was three tries in eight minutes after an expansive move from Saints saw Hurrell supply Makinson to cross for his second of the game. Makinson kicked the extras for 44-6.
Sione Mata´utia found it far too easy just before the hour mark as he pushed his way between two defenders after stepping twice off his left foot. Hull struggled to get a hand on him, and he grounded. Makinson added the conversion to bring up the fifty, FC humiliated again.
An outrageous Lussick dummy, after a scoot from dummy half, was bought by the Hull defence and with the FC substitute cantering over for the tenth Saints try of the afternoon. Makinson was again on target for 56-6. Saints were now treating the game as a training exercise.
Saints brought up the sixty when Davies dummied his way past the FC defence to go in for his second of the afternoon. Makinson was unable to kick the conversion, the Hull crowd almost all now outside the stadium as the travelling Saints fans cheered on their side.
After a decent opening fifteen minutes which gave their supporters hope, Hull FC collapsed as they capitulated to Saints and conceded sixty unanswered points to the Champions and minor premiers elect. Make no mistake, FC were awful, but Saints were on top form for the last hour of the game scoring at almost a point a minute. FC now looking extremely unlikely to make the play-offs after a disappointing season, Saints simply march on!
Hull FC: Walker (T), McIntosh, Connor, Vulikijapani, Wynne, Smith, Gale (G), Taylor, Houghton, Evans, Lane, Longstaff, Fash. Subs: Satae, Lovodua, Johnstone, Laidlaw.
St Helens: Hopoate (T), Makinson (2T, 8G), Hurrell (2T), Mata´utia (T), Bennison, Davies (2T), Lomax, Walmsley, Roby, Lees, Bell, Batchelor, Knowles. Subs: Lussick (T), McCarthy-Scarsbrook (2T), Paasi, Wingfield.
Score Progression: 4-0, 6-0, 6-4, 6-6, 6-10, 6-14, 6-16, 6-20, 6-24, 6-26 : HT : 6-30, 6-32, 6-36, 6-38, 6-42, 6-44, 6-48, 6-50, 6-54, 6-56, 6-60 : FT.
Lead Exchanges: Hull FC – Square – St Helens.
Referee: Ben Thaler.