SAINTS bounced back from last week's Challenge Cup exit with what was eventually a comfortable 24-10 win over Hull FC.

The victory sees Saints open up a two-point lead at the top of Betfred Super League following Wigan's defeat last night.

The defending champions found the first half heavy going at times - and gave themselves plenty of defending to do due to bits of ill-discipline and poor ball control.

But with half back Jonny Lomax, playing with a ruptured bicep heavily strapped, taking the lead role Saints began to patiently turn the screw.

And they were helped in that mission by their tough defence that was back to its early season level. 

The back row of Curtis Sirone, Joe Batchelor and Morgan Knowles was immense in that field.

And makeshift wing Mark Percival, playing outside Sione Mata'utia, put in some bone-crunching tackles too.

Although the game was ugly at times with a lot of whistle, it was illuminated by some fine passages of play.

The game was halted after just three minutes when Hull prop Brad Fash was knocked out trying to halt Matty Lees running at full pelt.

Saints opened the lead on six minutes when crafty play from skipper James Roby, from a tapped penalty down the short side, creating space for centre Konrad Hurrell to send Tommy Makinson over for the first of his two tries.

That took him past the 1,000-points milestone for the Saints.

St Helens Star:

Hull gradually got into the game, helped by Saints errors, poor set endings, penalties and six agains, and they pounded the line.

Saints had to be good - and their goal line defence and scramble was tip-top even when the line breached.

First prop Ligi Sao spilled the ball with the line begging and then Jack Welsby managed to knock out the final pass after Connor Wynne had broke through.

The home line finally cracked on 29 minutes when Darnell McIntosh collected an unorthodox Jake Connor kick to level.

With less than a minute left on the clock, Saints rattled Hull with a sucker punch.

From a hastily taken penalty saw Roby break before Welsby somehow twisted out of a two-man tackle to keep up his remarkable scoring run against Hull.

Makinson's goal made it 10-4 on the half time hooter.

St Helens Star:

The second half got off to a shaky start, with Lomax denying Josh Reynolds a try after the Hull half had collected Connor's bouncing high kick.

In the 44th-minute it got even tougher when James Bell was yellow carded for a tip tackle on Carlos Tuimavave, and Hull tried to take advantage.

But Saints rolled their sleeves up extended their lead with a Makinson penalty.

This came after some shrewd kicking from Lomax, backed by a terrific defence, had pinned back the visitors and forced a drop out.

At the three quarter stage Lomax sent powerhouse centre Konrad Hurrell bounding through a gap and the experienced half was up in support to take the return pass and saunter over with a smile on his face.

It was a classic Lomax score which made light of his injury.

Nice hands created space for Makinson to squeeze in for his second to effectively end the contest.

Hull had the last word when McIntosh went over for his second despite half the crowd shouting forward. 

St Helens Star:

St Helens: Welsby, Makinson, Hurrell, Mata'utia, Percival, Davies, Lomax, Walmsley, Roby, Lees, Sironen, Batchelor, Knowles. Subs: Lussick, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Pa'asi, Bell.

Hull: Connor, Shaul, Wynne, Tuimavave, McIntosh, Reynolds, Lovodua, Sao, Houghton, Taylor, Lane, Ma'u, Fash. Subs: Brown, Griffin, Johnstone, Satae.
Referee: Jack Smith (RFL)