This game needed no build up whatsoever the importance of it was clear to all parties. Two teams bang in form and both fighting for spots in the top four and maybe even a tilt at second spot went head to head at the Totally Wicked Stadium. Hull made several unexpected changes to the side with Jamie Shaul, Mahe Fonua, Fetuli Talanoa and Josh Bowden missing out after all being named in Lee Radford’s 19 man squad so the Hull fans were nervous as kick off approached.
Just before kick off the heavens opened which didn’t help either side. The start of the game was dictated by errors with neither team able to put consecutive sets together to build pressure. Saints opened the scoring when they were given a controversial penalty as Jansin Turgut was adjudged to have taken out Jon Wilkin from a kick. Late in the set Saints spread it wide and Regan Grace dived over in the corner. The try was converted and Saints held an early 6-0 lead.
The next twenty minutes were painful to watch. Only Shaun McRae would have taken pleasure from what was on display as both sides played out a “Knockonathon” and with plenty of penalties thrown in it made the game scrappy and it had no flow to it. Hull kept being given chances near the St Helens line but time after time they coughed up possession. It was like Déjà vu from 5 weeks ago at the same ground when Hull couldn’t control the ball in similarly wet conditions.
Late in the half though Hull found a way back into the game. Danny Houghton fired a pass wide to Jake Connor who stepped inside the defender and found Marc Sneyd. Dominique Peyroux almost took his head off but Sneyd just evaded him before putting in an outrageous right foot step which gave him enough space to reach out and ground the ball. It was a brilliant piece of broken field play from Sneyd who converted his try to make it 6-6.
It looked like both teams were ready for Half Time until Jake Connor dropped a bomb on his own line with a minute to go until the break. Luckily Hull managed to hold out and the two sides went in at half time level.
HT St Helens 6-6 Hull FC
The second half began with James Child reverting to type and giving everything to the home side. They had 5 sets on Hull’s line early in the half but some heroic defence by the likes of Gareth Ellis and Albert Kelly kept them out.
Hull still looked fit and up for the challenge after that onslaught and began to assert themselves on the game. Leading from the front was Gareth Ellis who was magnificent. He hit everything that moved and made excellent metres all night. Add to that his calming effect on the pitch and you have a pretty perfect performance.
Hull were rewarded for their tenacity with 15 minutes to go when they were awarded a penalty. Marc Sneyd backed himself to go for goal from ten metres to the left of the post on the halfway line. Sneeeeeeyyyydddd absolutely nailed it to give Hull an 8-6 lead and set up an incredibly tense finale.
Hull fans needn’t have worried though because Hull managed the game perfectly and saw out the game with relative ease. They spent most of the final ten minutes in Saints half and never looked like losing. The final siren was met with joyous celebrations amongst the Hull fans, “Oh when the Saints get beat by Hull”.
FT St Helens 6-8 Hull FC
It is important to highlight just how huge this win in for Hull FC. They were missing several key players and came up against a bang in form Saints team. Their second half performance though was almost faultless as each and every player stood up and was counted. Some need to be mentioned individually, Masi Matongo had his best game in an FC shirt and in such a tense game that is impressive.
Marc Sneyd scored all of Hull’s points and managed the game perfectly. He also put in more than his first share of defending. Our Man of the Match though was Gareth Ellis. It was a monumental effort from the veteran Captain. He played massive minutes, hit everything that moved and made good yardage. Well played Gaz!
Hull now sit four points clear of Saints and three of Wakefield but they will be looking up rather than down. Hull are now just one point behind Leeds and are breathing down their necks. The race for second place is well and truly on!