By PA Sport
Last Updated: 14/09/18 11:40pm
St Helens shrugged off their late-season wobble to lift the League Leaders’ Shield courtesy of a 38-12 victory over Hull FC at the Totally Wicked Stadium.
England centre Mark Percival and exciting winger Regan Grace scored two tries apiece as Saints overcame injury-hit Hull at the Totally Wicked Stadium.
Justin Holbrook’s men have led the table all season, but they missed a chance to secure the shield a fortnight ago when Wigan condemned them to a second successive home defeat, which came on the heels of their shock Challenge Cup exit.
However, Saints made no mistake this time as they cruised to a fourth win of the season over the Black and Whites, who have now lost their last nine matches.
Saints, who handed debuts to former Bradford forward James Bentley and 17-year-old Jack Welsby in the absence of a host of regulars, led only 18-12 at the break but ran away with the game after the interval.
Hull conceded 80 points in their last away game but this time put up more resistance despite being without eight regulars through injury. Forwards Jordan Lane and Brad Fash scored their first ever Super League tries.
Skipper Danny Houghton, full-back Jamie Shaul and centre Carlos Tuimavave were all added to Hull’s lengthy injury list but England utility back Jake Connor was back for his first appearance since July.
Connor went off after only nine minutes with a hand injury, but returned after undergoing repairs. However, Hull lost back-row forward Sika Manu to a leg injury after 17 minutes, when they trailed 12-0.
Percival had opened the scoring after 10 minutes, supporting a break by stand-off Jonny Lomax, and makeshift hooker Morgan Knowles added a second after fending off two defenders for a soft score.
Scrum-half Danny Richardson kicked both conversions but Lane jinked his way over for Hull’s first try and substitute Fash added a solo effort to bring the visitors level.
Saints then nudged their way back in front on the stroke of half-time when prop Luke Thompson barged his way over for their third try.
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Richardson’s third conversion made it 18-12 and he extended the lead with a penalty 10 minutes into the second half.
Saints missed a clear-cut chance to go further in front when the hugely-impressive Thompson burst clear from his own half but ruined the move with a wayward pass to the supporting Ben Barba.
However, Percival made no such error moments later when he broke clear to dummy his way over for his second try and give his side a three-score lead.
The final quarter belonged to Welsh wizard Grace, who scored his first try in an opportunistic manner from close to the corner flag and raced 60 metres in glorious fashion for his second, ducking under full-back Hakim Miloudi on his way to the line.
Richardson made it seven goals from seven attempts to wrap up the scoring and an emphatic win for his table-topping team.