Jonny Lomax pulled the strings as St Helens outscored Hull FC by five tries to three to win 32-18 against the early Betfred Super League pacesetters.
Lomax was the architect as a four-try blitz in the third quarter of the game made all the difference as the Grand Final winners showed their class to end Hull’s 100 per cent start to the season.
Hull had led 6-2 at half-time but had no answer after the break to the precision of last season’s runaway regular season winners and could only manage a second try from Carlos Tuimavave and a late Jamie Shaul score.
Hull had Gareth Ellis back from injury while the Saints were boosted by Tommy Makinson, Alex Walmsley and Morgan Knowles.
St Helens took the lead after three minutes when the returning Makinson kicked a penalty awarded for obstruction as Theo Fages went for the line.
Both sides made mistakes to give up possession when in promising positions although heavy rain before the game had subsided with Storm Dennis abating and the KCOM Stadium bathed in bright sunshine for kick-off.
Strong defence by Hull kept Saints at bay and Knowles slipped as he bore down on the home line on the last tackle.
A fine Reagan Grace run down the middle, evading three tackles, came to nothing as Hull once again held out.
Ratu Naulago was forced into touch just short of the Saints line after Marc Sneyd’s kick following a high tackle had given Hull good field position.
Hull took the lead just before the half hour when Tuimavave touched the loose ball down as players from both sides scrambled when St Helens failed to claim a high ball from Jake Connor.
With Hull increasingly looking to Sneyd’s kicking, the home side were able to retain their slender 6-2 lead by the break.
A strong wind returned for the second half and St Helens grabbed their first try six minutes in as Matty Costello dived in at the corner after Connor had been penalised for kicking straight into touch. Makinson’s missed conversion left the game tied at 6-6.
The visitors were back in front shortly after as Luke Thompson grounded the loose ball when Mahe Fonua spilled yet another high kick.
The visitors were finding their stride and Louis McCarthy-Scarsbrook forced his way over for their third try with half an hour remaining from Jonny Lomax’s pass. Makinson’s simple kick made it 18-6.
Another Lomax pass set up try number four for Saints as Jake Bentley went over, with Makinson’s kick stretching the lead to 24-6.
Tuimavave wriggled his way to Hull’s second try with 15 minutes to go as he slipped two tackles down the right from Fonua’s pass, and Sneyd’s conversion reduced the arrears to 12 points.
Makinson’s second penalty with 10 minutes left put the champions 14 points ahead and Aaron Smith’s late try finally put the game beyond the home side.
Shaul’s late try added a little respectability to the scoreline for Hull but they were already comfortably beaten.