St. Helens 18 Hull FC 47,Outstanding Airlie Birds punish poor Saints

Hull FC sent out a Challenge Cup warning with a stunning performance against St. Helens at Langtree Park this afternoon.

The Airlie Birds moved into the quarter-finals with a ruthless eight-try performance which bludgeoned the home side into submission in a fashion as hot as the soaring temperatures on the pitch.

Marc Sneyd produced another masterful performance as man of the match with a kicking, running and passing game that was second-to-none.

Head coach Lee Radford brought skipper Gareth Ellis and star Mark Minichiello straight back into the starting line-up to replace Frank Pritchard and Sika Manu who were away on international duty.

Danny Washbrook came into the starting 13 as well having started on the bench in the win against Catalans Dragons last week as the Airlie Birds went looking for their fourth consecutive win at Langtree Park.

Saints started the better of the two sides with Theo Fages just short of an attempted 40/20 and then, after a knock on by Danny Houghton they forced more pressure as a delicate chip by Luke Walsh forced Fetuli Talanoa to run the ball dead.

From the resulting possession a fast move to the left saw Mark Percival give the home side a deserved lead in the fifth minute, Walsh added the extras with the conversion from wide out.

Video referee Ben Thaler was called into action for the first time to award a try to Danny Houghton after the home side conceded a soft penalty for offside and, subsequently, former Saints player Leon Pryce put the Hull vice-captain through a big gap, Marc Sneyd brought the scores level with the conversion in the 11th minute.

Hull then took the lead as another penalty, this time for a high shot by Kyle Amor on Houghton, gave the visitors territory and possession and Scott Taylor proved too strong to crash over beside the posts, Sneyd made it a six point advantage with the inevitable conversion in the 14th minute.

Back-to-back knock on’s from Saints then ramped up the pressure on their defensive line but then another knock on from Hull lost them the momentum they had built up.

A huge 40/20 by Sneyd gave Hull another chance at the Saints end of the pitch and a beautiful move involving Houghton and Sneyd brought a simple try for Ellis, Sneyd was again successful with the conversion in the 21st minute.

St. Helens were next to threaten after a penalty gave them much needed possession in the Hull half but resolute defence from Hull kept them at bay and a last tackle kick by Fages was scooped up by Josh Bowden.

Another penalty for the home side gave them more territory and eventually Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook bashed his way over the line despite the attentions of Sneyd, Walsh made it 12-18 with the conversion in the 32nd minute.

Referee Richard Silverwood then called on video confirmation as Jamie Shaul crossed from dummy half after impressive power saw the Airlie Birds cover 50+ metres in next to no time, Sneyd restored their 12 point lead with the conversion three minutes before the break.

Sneyd then repeated the trick that bagged the Airlie Birds a single point victory at the same ground just over a month earlier with a drop-goal to make it a three score lead at half-time.

St. Helens had a lucky escape in the 2nd minute after a knock on saw the loose ball kicked through by Talanoa for the winger to eventually cross the whitewash but they were brought back for a knock on by Kirk Yeaman.

The home side then went straight down the other end as Luke Walsh was allowed to run  50 metres and stretch out to score as Shaul tried to effect the tackle, the aussie half-back then added the extras from near the touchline five minutes into the half.

Just as the home side seemed to have the momentum Hull went and took control back as Sneyd produced a superb cut-out pass to put Curtis Naughton over in the corner for his almost customary try at this ground, Sneyd was just wide with the touchline conversion after 53 minutes.

Sneyd then accepted the invitation to add two more points with a penalty in front of the posts after a high tackle on Mark Minichiello to make it a three score lead again after 58 minutes.

Another delightful kick by Sneyd under great pressure near the Saints line then produced another try as Talanoa beat two defenders to the ball and offloaded to Yeaman for the veteran centre to cross in the corner, Sneyd stretched the lead to 18-37 with the conversion with 15 minutes left to play.

Hull forced a goal line drop out with their next attack and the Airlie Birds took full advantage as a deft pass from Houghton manufactured a 2nd try of the game for Taylor, Sneyd made it 7 goals from 8 attempts with the conversion after 69 minutes.

Another handling mistake from Saints gave Hull another chance from a 10 metre scrum and Talanoa got the try he deserved with an athletic finish in the corner awarded by the video referee, Sneyd was just off target with the conversion with five minutes left on the clock.

Jack Owens was unfortunate in the final minute as he was denied by the video referee after he just put his foot in touch trying to grab a consolation.

Penalties: Saints 3 Hull FC: 6

Goal Line Drop Outs: Saints 1 Hull FC 2

40/20: Saints 0 Hull FC: 1

Man of the Match: Marc Sneyd

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