Hull FC 0 v 46 St Helens
|MATCH NOTES : Saints recorded their first ever victory at the KC Stadium, Hull.|
MATCH REPORT : An incredible first-half display saw Saints claim their maiden victory at the KC Stadium in spectacular fashion, scoring 46 unanswered points against the Challenge Cup holders.
Not only had Saints never won here, but they had never previously even been in touch at half-time. This was as one-sided as those past encounters, but this time it was the visitors who ripped through their opponents� defence.
This was achieved without three key forwards, as Paul Sculthorpe�s late withdrawal saw him join Nick Fozzard and Lee Gilmour on the sidelines. On a more positive note, Paul Wellens showed no ill-effects from his fractured cheekbone as he returned to the side.
It was a Hull side with brittle confidence after three defeats in their previous four matches and, once Saints found a way through the home side�s defence, it just crumbled.
After resisting Hull�s early pressure, the confidence surged into Saints attack and, led as ever by Keiron Cunningham with admirable support from props Jason Cayless and James Graham, they first prodded Hull onto the ropes before landing a flurry of knockout blows.
Jamie Lyon slotted over a ninth-minute penalty before scoring the game�s first try after combining with Ade Gardner down the right flank.
It was quickly apparent that everything was going Saints� way when a deft chip from Cayless forced a drop-out; Saints simply switched the focus of the attack and Francis Meli was soon touching down in the opposite corner.
Gardner was soon rewarded for his early endeavours, out-leaping Gareth Raynor to Sean Long�s lob to maintain his try-a-game ratio in Super League XI.
18-0 behind, Hull were stunned and were often, if not the cause, then had at least been complicit in their own downfall.
Failure to retain or utilise possession effectively allowed Saints to start sets on the front foot, but it was their lack of concentration in defence that was responsible for the rout.
On two occasions in the first half Saints chose not to kick on the last tackle, and instead ran with purpose at the hesitant defence, resulting in Jason Hooper and Leon Pryce adding their names to the list of tryscorers.
Thirty points ahead at the break, it nearly got worse for Hull but the video referee disallowed Lyon�s touchdown for what could only have been the faintest of knock-ons in the build-up, before Meli also had one chalked off.
Having achieved the objective of keeping Hull scoreless - in fact, from threatening at all - until the game was completely safe, Saints then began to really relax and play expansive rugby, resulting in a try of the very highest quality.
A nine-man passing move, each one cheered by the jubilant away following, saw the ball shifted from one side of the pitch to the other and back again, ending with Pryce ghosting his way through for his third in two games. It thoroughly deserved the applause it received from the Hull fans.
Still Saints didn�t relent, with Vinnie Anderson becoming the 16th Saints tryscorer this season, before Meli powered over for Saints� eighth and final try of a memorable night.
While Hull were far from their best, it was still a performance that will have shocked Super League for its overwhelming force.
With April bringing fixtures against the teams currently occupying the bottom four places and Salford, Saints will be keen to ensure that they maintain their focus, for if they do they will enter the summer months in a great position to launch their assault on Old Trafford from first position.
Hull FC: Shaun Briscoe, Nathan Blacklock, Sid Domic, Richard Whiting, Gareth Raynor, Paul Cooke, Richard Horne, Jamie Thackray, Danny Brough, Garreth Carvell, Chris Chester, Lee Radford, Peter Lupton.
Subs: Ewan Dowes, Danny Hill, Paul King, Motu Tony.
Saints: Paul Wellens, Ade Gardner, Jamie Lyon, Willie Talau, Francis Meli, Leon Pryce, Sean Long, Paul Anderson, Keiron Cunningham, Jason Cayless, Mike Bennett, Jon Wilkin, Jason Hooper.
Subs: James Roby, Vinnie Anderson, James Graham, Maurie Fa'asavalu.
Tries: Meli (2), Pryce (2), Lyon, Gardner, Hooper, V Anderson.
Goals: Lyon (5/7), Hooper (2/2)
Referee: K Kirkpatrick
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