St Helens 24-10 Hull FC: League leaders Saints claim impressive Super League victory over Black and Whites
Tommy Makinson (two), Jack Welsby, Jonny Lomax each score tries as Saints respond to their Challenge Cup exit with impressive victory over Hull; Darnell McIntosh scored twice for Hull FC, who were the better side in the first half and should have scored more points on the night
Last Updated: 13/05/22 11:13pm
England winger Tommy Makinson scored a try in each half as St Helens bounced back from the disappointment of their Challenge Cup exit by grinding out a 24-10 win over Hull to open up a two-point gap at the top of Super League.
Kristian Woolf's men were far from at their fluent best but were patient and gradually wore down their visitors, whose three-match winning run was brought to a predictable halt.
The architect of the champions' 10th win from 12 matches was England stand-off Jonny Lomax, who defied a ruptured bicep to pull the strings on a stuttering attack.
Woolf brought in loose forward James Bell in the only change to the side that lost to Wigan at Elland Road, with Sione Mata'utia switched to centre, while Hull coach Brett Hodgson sprung a surprise by leaving out skipper Luke Gale despite him completing a two-match ban.
Instead Josh Reynolds was recalled from injury to partner Joe Lovodua in the halves and back rower Jordan Lane led the team out.
Hull suffered a blow after just three minutes when prop forward Brad Fash knocked himself out attempting to stop Matty Lees in full flight and had to be helped from the field.
They fell behind three minutes later when Saints skipper James Roby went down the short side with a tapped penalty and combined with centre Konrad Hurrell to get Makinson over for his first try, which brought up his 1,000th point for the club.
The visitors appeared sluggish in the opening stages but gradually worked their way into the game and put the champions' defence under severe pressure.
Prop Ligi Sao reached the line only to lose his grip on the ball and Hull ought to have cashed in on centre Connor Wynne's clean break but Saints utility man Jack Welsby managed to get his hands on the final pass.
The pressure finally told after 29 minutes when right winger Darnell McIntosh outpaced Mark Percival to touch down full-back Jake Connor's well-placed kick for an equalising try.
It stayed at 4-4 until seconds before half-time when Saints struck a decisive blow, Roby coming up with a half-break and Welsby twisting and turning out of a two-man tackle to score their second try, to which Makinson added the goal.
Hull might have been level again a minute into the second half when Lomax allowed the ball to bounce from Connor's high kick but made amends by preventing Reynolds from grounding the ball.
Wynne was also held up over the line as Hull sought to take advantage of the 44th-minute sin-binning of Bell for a dangerous tackle on Carlos Tuimavave.
Saints not only held firm while a man down but extended their lead with a penalty from Makinson after Connor was pulled up for interference.
And they made sure of the win after 58 minutes when Lomax got Hurrell charging into a gap and was on hand to take the return pass for Saints' third try, which Makinson scored.
Makinson then clinched his second try as Saints threatened to cut loose but Hull had the final say when McIntosh went over for his second and Connor added the conversion.