Hull FC 18-33 St Helens
Saturday afternoon saw Hull FC look to extend their recent good run of form in the Challenge Cup when they took on St Helens. This was the Black and Whites fourth semi-final in the past six seasons. Two of those led to cup victories in 2016 and 2017. St Helens despite league dominance in the past few seasons have only been to one Challenge Cup final since the last time they lifted the trophy in 2008. The two sides faced up against each other only 8 days earlier, the Saints running out 34-16 winners. This time around Hull Head coach, Brett Hodgson, was without loose forward Joe Cator, whilst St Helens were able to welcome back wingers Regan Grace and Tommy Makinson back to their starting XIII.
It was a tough-fought start to the game with neither team getting any clear chances to open the scoring. This was until Marc Sneyd converted a penalty taking the two points to get the Airlie birds on the board. The Saints machine started to gain momentum as they dominated the rest of the first half. First Regan Grace with an acrobatic try in the corner. Disaster struck minutes later, FC’s Josh Griffin strode out of a tackle on his 10-meter line, as he did so ruptured his Achilles, with this incredible agony apparent dropped the ball. All on the pitch had stopped other than Theo Fages, playing to the whistle, picked the ball up and touched down. To the letter of the game a legitimate try, sportsmanship may have been lacking from the halfback. Half time Hull FC were 14-2 behind.
The second half did not start much better, Hull looking lost on occasions, St Helens continued to dominate. Last weeks hat-trick hero Welsby made it 20-2 when he touched down on 47 minutes. Mahe Fonua’s try gave Hodgson’s side a small glimmer of hope. Fages was again on the score sheet with a drop goal just to extend the lead further. The next try took 14 minutes of Hull building pressure and finally looking dangerous for a sustained period in the game. Carlos Tuimavave offloaded to Danny Houghton who had an easy try. Nine minutes to go the Black and Whites reduced the deficit to three, Cameron Scott, who dragged two opposing men with him over the try line as the score ticked to 18-21. The momentum had swung in Hull’s favour as they poured forward in attack. Quickplay across the line opened spaces finding, Jake Connor who misplaced his pass into the opportunistic Regan Grace. Grace went almost the length of the field, nobody was going to catch him and it all but kill FC’s dreams of Wembley. A high bomb was the final nail in the coffin. Fages kick went high Connor at full-back was stationary as Kevin Naiqama jumped over the man in Black and White, the ball broke loose Lachlan Coote collected and slid over from close range.
St Helens may have won by a 15 point margin but the game and certainly the second half was far closer. Hull can definitely take heart and positives from the game despite the defeat. It is back to Super League action on Thursday night against Castleford Tigers.
Report by: Simon Bromwich
Hull FC (2) 18
Tries: Fonua, Houghton, Scott. Goals: Sneyd 3
St Helens (14) 33
Tries: Grace 2, Fages, Welsby, Coote. Goals: Coote 6. Drop-goal: Fages
Published: 7th June 2021