St Helens 20-12 Hull: St Helens return to winning ways as Hull show signs of improvements

Josh McAllister
Jon Bennison St Helens

St Helens returned to winning ways but were made to work hard with a 20-12 victory over Hull FC at the Totally Wicked Stadium.

Jon Bennison sealed the victory in the dying minutes with his second of the match, having crossed earlier in the second 40.

St Helens have now won their last fifteen meetings with Hull.

Here are our five takeaways…

St Helens return to winning ways

Although only two straight defeats, St Helens ended their winless run but were made to work for the victory. It wasn’t until the 38th minute the deadlock was broken through Ben Davies.

And Hull did take the lead early on in the second half through Scott Taylor.

But further tries from Bennison and Jack Welsby gave the hosts a lead, although it was a nervy end with Jake Clifford crossing from a mistake for a 16-12 score.

But in the end, Bennison claimed the victory in the corner to claim his side’s second win of the season.

Mark Percival late withdrawal

St Helens centre Mark Percival was a late withdrawal from the line-up, having originally been named by head coach Paul Wellens.

Sky Sports reported a slight calf issue, with Wellens set to face the media shortly for his post-match press conference.

Percival was replaced by winger Tee Ritson, which saw Tommy Makinson move to the centres. 

Frustrated fans

There was quite a bit of frustration among the home fans during the first half watching their side’s pretty average attack.

It was always a fear that the World Club Challenge could knock St Helens off their game early on, and that has been the case so far. 

St Helens didn’t throw too much at their opponents at home in the first half, but I’m sure fans went home happy having seen their side claim the victory in the end.

Hull had a go

It was a much improved performance from Hull, and those on the media bench even insisted it was their best of the season. The side were humiliated 60-14 at home to Salford the previous weekend.

Jake Clifford had a real dig, but was probably needing to do much, with Joe Lovodua having a quiet game in the halves.

Hull are now just two wins from five so far this season and have lost their last three Super League fixtures.

Questionable televised choice

It was a questionable televised pick by Sky Sports ahead of the clash. The fixture was far from a spectacular viewing – nor was last night’s, although it had the Yorkshire derby narrative.

Warrington’s home tie with Leigh would have been a preferred choice from the Love Rugby League HQ, although it didn’t prove to be much of a competition in the end.

How it happened

  • 1’ There’s a late change to the Saints side, as Tee Ritson replaces Mark Percival. 
  • 20’ Hull have come the closest, but the score remains 0-0. 
  • 23’ Ben Davies is held up over the line by a great tackle from Adam Swift. (0-0)
  • 23’ On the next play, Jon Bennison crosses in the corner but the assist pass is ruled forward. 
  • 32’ Andre Savelio is held up for Hull. (0-0)
  • 32’ Josh Griffin is then ruled to be held up by the video referee. (0-0)
  • 38’ Ben Davies scores the game’s first just minutes before the half-time break. The centre collects a short goal-line drop-out from Hull and manages to escape defenders to race the 20 metres and score. Tommy Makinson can’t convert. (4-0)
  • HT: St Helens 4-0 Hull
  • 47′ Scott Taylor has his second of the season, powering his way over close to the line. Jake Clifford converts to give his side their first lead. (4-6)
  • 54′ Tee Ritson tries his best to get over in the corner but he’s pushed into touch. (4-6)
  • 55′ On the next play, St Helens regain their lead through Jon Bennison. Joey Lussick converting this time. (10-6)
  • 60′ Jack Welsby extends the lead thanks to a lovely offload from James Bell. Lussick converts from wide. (16-6)
  • 65′ Jake Clifford picks up a dropped ball and it’s game on. He converts his own try. (16-12)
  • 75′ Brad Dywer bombs a chance to give his side the lead in the dying minutes. (16-12).
  • 78′ Bennison wins it with his second of the match. Lussick misses. (20-12)
  • FT: St Helens 20-12 Hull

How they lined up

St Helens: Welsby, Bennison, Makinson, Davies, Ritson, Lomax, Dodd, Walmsley, Roby, Lees, Bell, Sironen, Knowles. Bench: Lussick, LMS, Paasi, Wingfield.

Tries: Davies, Bennison (2), Welsby Goals: Makinson 0/1, Lussick 2/3

Hull: Hoy, Swift, Griffin, Scott, Litten, Lovodua, Clifford, Brown, Houghton, Satae, Sao, Savelio, Fash. Bench: Lane, Cator, Taylor, Dwyer.

Tries: Taylor, Clifford Goals: Clifford 2/2

What they said

St Helens head coach Paul Wellens said: “To finally get a result after a couple of defeats, it’s pleasing. What I’ve got to do as a coach is to put things into perspective a little bit. When you’re not winning games, you’re not as bad as you probably think you are. And when you win games, there’s still lots to learn.”

Hull boss Tony Smith said: “It  was drastically different to last week. We had to go out and prove a bit to ourselves really.

“That’s the first time that we’ve been able to dig that deep defensively and for as long periods as we did.

“I’m going to say St Helens played well, it’s the best they’ve played since they’ve played Penrith. They had to dig deep. We made them earn it, whereas last week, as good as Salford were, I don’t think we tested them enough.”

READ NEXT: Jamie Jones-Buchanan backs Andy Last to land permanent Castleford gig