AN OUTSTANDING display from England centre Mark Percival was not enough to stop Saints sliding to their third defeat on the spin in east Yorkshire.
Percival penetrated the Black and Whites’ defensive line on a number of occasions, scoring one try in a much-improved overall team showing on the previous two wash-outs.
But nobody at Saints is going to be content with a 24-14 loss; given the way the league is structured these days it is no longer possible to build into a season.
If they don’t begin converting Ls into Ws then they are going to be in for some battle to maintain their unique record of reaching every top 8 eight cut since the divisions split in 1973-74.
Although the game played with much more intensity and there was no lack of effort and industry, they were let down by some poor handling, were caned on the penalty count and seemed to lack that bit of finesse when they tried to move the ball in a jerky, jittery fashion, particularly from left to right.
Although everyone noted how outstanding Percival was on the night, Saints need to get Australian centre Ryan Morgan more involved on the right edge to give a bit more diversity and width to the attack.
There are, understandably still teething troubles given Jonny Lomax is still sidelined with a knee injury and linchpin Matty Smith is still recovering from a broken leg.
It meant that Saints shuffled their halves again, with skipper Jon Wilkin again propelled from the pack to a pivot role, partnering an improved Theo Fages.
Wilkin comes with limitations in this role and although as largely safe and steady, it inevitably it blew up in the closing stages.
Saints had led 14-10 well into the final quarter before a controversial Carlos Tuimavave eight-point try seemingly put the game out of reach.
But with Saints throwing caution to the wind, giving the ball some air, as they chased the game, they opened Hull’s defence up on the right.
Alas with the Hull left edge looking decidedly bedraggled, Wilkin put in the most indelicate of chips and the last chance went begging.
The Hull players were virtually on their haunches, but with Saints still cursing to themselves Scott Taylor bustled upfield to allow Albert Kelly to supply the coup de graces.
It was such a disappointing ending after Saints, backed by a tremendous following for full length of the M62 Friday night, had made a promising start.
Saints gave as good as they got from the Hull pack, but fell behind to something of a freak try when Albert Kelly broke the deadlock from a freak Taylor boot-assisted offload.
Anything Hull can do – on the fluke stakes – Saints could do better and Dom Peyroux accepted Tuimavave’s gift when he hoofed Fages’ clever attacking kick into the path of the Saints second row man.
Percival’s goal levelled matters and then added a penalty.
A pair of Sneyd penalties gave Hull the lead.
However, with a energetic chase supplied to the Wilkin and Fages’ kicking, Saints were able to build some pressure.
With Alex Walmsley slowly but surely beginning to wind himself up with some strong charges, Hull forward Jansin Turgut decided to try and unsettle him with a cheap elbow into the face.
The Hull man copped 10 minutes in the cooler and Saints lost no time in cashing in.
Percival kicked the resultant penalty and then scored a try after Zeb Taia, who had a bit of a nightmare game in the handling stakes, managed to release the centre.
In shades of last week, Saints failed to keep their foot on their opponents throat and compounded some sloppy ball control on their own line with some lax defence allowing Tuimavave to dance through.
Walmsley’s lunge would not have looked half as bad had the players not remonstrates with him, but the eight-pointer tipped the game Hull’s way.
Hull: Shaul; Fonua, Tuimavave, Griffin, Talanoa; Kelly, Sneyd; Taylor, Houghton, Bowden, Manu, Minichiello, Thompson. Subs: Green, Washbrook, Turgut, Matongo.
Saints: Makinson; Owens, Morgan, Percival, Swift; Fages, Wilkin; Walmsley, Roby, Douglas, Taia, Peyroux, Knowles. Subs: Amor, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Walker, Lee.