St Helens 12-32 Hull FC

Sean Long came back to haunt St Helens with a try and an assist to help Hull FC record a 32-12 victory at Knowsley Road.

Long surprised many by crossing the M62 after 12 years with the Saints and most neutrals would have been equally surprised by Hull’s impressive start to the season.

Heavy mist threatened to postpone the game at the GWT Recruitment Stadium, but after conditions began to slowly improve the match kicked off 15 minutes later than scheduled.

St Helens dominated the early exchanges but had nothing to show for their efforts as Hull’s defence stubbornly held firm.

It was Hull who broke the deadlock midway through the first half as Long’s quick inside pass set up Australian second-rower Willie Manu to touch down. Manu was too strong for Saints’ full back Paul Wellens.

Epalahame Lauaki added to Hull’s lead after shaking off three tacklers before desperately guiding the ball over the line.

The home side spurned a golden opportunity to cut the deficit to six points in the last attack of the first half. Scott Moore failed to touch down the advancing ball from James Roby’s clever kick through, as centre Kirk Yeaman managed to scramble the ball clear for Hull.

At the start of the second half Hull continued to build upon their impressive performance and added to their lead when Danny Tickle converted a penalty after Saints’ captain Kieron Cunningham was penalised for not standing square.

In their next attack Long made his former employees pay for not offering him the three-year contract he craved. Full-back Richard Horne laid on the pass to give Long his 157th career try, but his first for his new club.

Tom Briscoe added to Hull’s lead after sprinting from his own half and losing a boot in the process. 

For three quarters of the game Hull produced a defensive masterclass as they continually came up with answers to everything Saints through at them.

Matt Gidley got the better of Hull’s organisation and Chris Flannery took advantage of a rare moment of defensive hesitation from Hull’s defence, but it was too little too late for the Saints. 

Centre Kirk Yeaman put the result beyond doubt for Hull in final few minutes of the game.

With record season ticket sales of 8,500, Hull’s fans will be expecting big things from their previously underachieving side. On this performance their loyalty may be rewarded.

If Long can recapture the form that made him such a favourite at Saints, Hull will be a force to be feared.

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