Last Updated: 13/07/18 11:04pm
St Helens took full advantage of Wigan’s slip-up to move eight points clear at the top of Betfred Super League following a hard-fought 34-18 victory at Hull FC.
The Warriors fell to a 20-12 defeat at in-form Huddersfield on Thursday evening and Justin Holbrook’s team took the opportunity to extend their lead at the summit at the KCOM Stadium.
Bureta Faraimo put Hull ahead with the opening set but the league leaders worked their way back into the match through Tommy Makinson and Ben Barba to move 10-8 ahead at the break, despite the home winger’s second score.
The Black and Whites regained the lead when Jansin Turgut and Albert Kelly crossed to move Hull 18-10 in front, but Saints came roaring back with 24 unanswered points as Jonny Lomax (two), Barba, Adam Swift and Luke Thompson all scored to seal a great comeback victory and the Steve Prescott Cup.
Defeat leaves Hull’s top-four ambitions in doubt ahead of the Super 8s next month.
The hosts got off to a rapid start and crossed inside the first minute following great improvisation from Kelly and Jake Connor.
Stand-off Kelly jinked his way across the Saints defence to create an overlap on the right edge before finding Connor, who instantly flicked the ball to Faraimo to twist his way past Barba and power over the line.
However, the league leaders soon found themselves level when Barba made amends for his earlier error to slip Makinson through to dive into the corner with their first meaningful attack following a flat start from the away side.
It was not long before the mercurial full-back put St Helens ahead for the first time when he sliced through the home defence after Jack Logan spilled a Danny Richardson high ball, with the half-back landing the touchline extras.
England international Connor was carried off through injury but his absence did not affect Hull’s right edge as Faraimo took a stunning catch to keep Kelly’s long pass in field before sneaking in the corner to reduce the gap to two points at half-time.
Hull found themselves back in front after 48 minutes through Turgut after he picked out Kelly flat pass ahead of the onrushing Regan Grace to stretch over in the corner.
The home side improved their advantage five minutes later when a flowing move saw Hull move upfield before Kelly earned a deserved try by trucking over Barba for an 18-10 lead.
But Saints are top for a reason and they hit back almost immediately as they overloaded on the left edge, with Faraimo down with an injury, for Barba to stroll in his second score of the match.
Holbrook’s side were soon back in front with 20 minutes left to play as Jonny Lomax darted over from close range, with Richardson tagging the extras to nudge the visitors 20-18 ahead.
However, Saints hit their stride with three further tries to end Hull’s resistance and condemn the hosts to just their second defeat of the season.
Saints hit the left edge once more as Hull players scrambled to recover and Lomax sold two players with dummies to cross for his second try before Swift and Thompson each scored in the corner to earn a thrilling triumph.