FULL TIME: Hull FC 19 St Helens 12

A minute's applause for Steve Prescott

No way through for Kyle Amor

First published in Sport
Last updated
St Helens Star: by , Sports Editor

SAINTS slipped up at Hull but lifted the Steve Prescott Cup and remain top of Super League.

While Leeds Rhinos failed to close the gap on the leaders with a 20-14 home defeat to relegated Bradford, Saints’ better aggregate score over the two Super League meetings with third-from-bottom Hull this year resulted in Nathan Brown’s men claiming the gold-leafed boot on offer in honour of the two clubs’ former full back.

Hull were pressing in the late stages for the extra six points needed but in the end they were well satisfied with toppling the table toppers and winning at home for the first time since April.

The boot of Joe Westerman, with a penalty and drop goal in the late stages, ultimately put the game out of Saints’ reach.

But in truth, Hull enjoyed more possession and territory and deserved their success.

While two important Super League points were at stake, the mood of the occasion was captured early by both sets of players warming up in T-shirts sporting on the reverse the number one and Prescott's name.

The legendary Saints and Hull full back may no longer be with us, but the man, his career and battle for life will never be forgotten.

It was fitting that, as at Langtree Park in February for the first leg of the inaugural Steve Prescott Cup, his sons Taylor and Koby were mascots and his brother Neil delivered the match ball to the kicking tee - all three arriving on the field ceremoniously to a standing ovation.

'Only one Steve Prescott," roared out from the Saints fans congregated in the North Stand and around the KC Stadium during one minute's celebratory applause and it made for an emotional prelude to the rip roaring 80 minutes of action.

Saints went into the game with three changes from the win at Widnes, with Jordan Turner joining Gary Wheeler in the halves in place of Luke Walsh, Josh Jones starting in the centres and Luke Thompson coming in on the bench.

And they settled quickly.

Danny Houghton's forward pass on halfway allowed Saints to apply pressure that was doubled when a Mark Flanagan grubber forced six more tackles.

Some swift handling to the right allowed Tommy Makinson to cut inside for the opening try, converted by Mark Percival, after four minutes.

Saints were unable to capitalise on further time spent in Hull's half and the Airlie Birds grew from that.

From successive penalties for offside at a scrum and then obstruction, Hull went from one end to the other and registered their opening try through Richard Horne, with Joe Westerman converting to level things up after 19 minutes.

Hull were starting to get on top, highlighted by the metres their forwards were making down the middle – led by the slimline version of old Wigan enemy Feka Paleaaesina.

Makinson and Wellens both produced try-saving tackles as Saints hung on gutsily.

But they continued to be on the back foot and Tom Lineham burrowed over from dummy half in the 36th minute to put his side ahead for the first time, with Westerman again converting.

Saints needed a decent start to the second half and they got it.

Signs were encouraging as some forward power led to James Roby’s grubber forcing six more but it was from Makinson’s 40-metre kick return that Saints got back on level terms.

With Hull’s defence in disarray, Paul Wellens sneaked over on the left for an important milestone effort in the 47th minute.

Not only did the converted score put Saints back on level footing, but it marked long-serving Wellens’ 1,001st point in the red V.

The tight nature of the game was enforced four minutes later when Westerman went for goal from a penalty 30 metres out but he pushed the effort wide.

Hull did return in front in the 59th minute though, with Micky Paea crashing over from a set play off Houghton’s pass but Westerman missed the goal attempt from within his usual range.

Knock ons inside Saints’ 20-metre zone by Matty Dawson and Sia Soliola in a three-minute spell did nothing to help Saints’ cause as they struggled to get out of their own quarter.

Then it got a little frantic.

A relieving penalty got the visitors into Hull territory but a falldown in combination led to a loose pass and knock on from Percival, putting Saints under the cosh again but Josh Jones came to the rescue with a big hit that earned possession back.

More handling errors handed speedy FC full back Jamie Shaul the chance of a zero tackle counter attack and although he had the legs on the Saints chasers his hack ahead skewed into touch.

Westerman struck a 45-metre penalty in the 78th minute to edge his side 18-12 ahead, still six points behind on aggregate for the silverware on offer.

Saints were desperately hanging on when Westerman got himself into the pocket on the last tackle to land a 30-metre drop goal for 19-12 with five minutes of added time to play.

It proved to be the final act of scoring.

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