Challenge Cup Sixth Round – Sunday 08th May – St Helens 18 Hull FC 47 – Langtree Park
A first Wembley win continues to elude Hull FC, but there’s still a certain romance between the famous Airlie Bird and the prestigious Challenge Cup trophy. Powering their way into the quarter finals with an eight try thumping of St Helens, the Black and Whites were far too hot to handle causing utter carnage in a game that you just didn’t want to end.
A jubilant Lee Radford preached post-match “it’s just the start” and on that showing you’d be a brave man to disagree with him. On a scorching hot day at Langtree Park, Hull were just far too good, leaving Saints in their wake as they played some ruthless and at times breathtaking rugby league.
Much the superior side, Hull were absolutely sensational. Behind a frantic, powerful and purposeful pack of forwards, their attack was fluent enough to smash a Saints side that were absolutely helpless to prevent it despite the absence of Sika Manu and Frank Pritchard who returned to Australia this week for the Tonga vs Samoa test match.
With a left boot to rival Lionel Messi, Marc Sneyd was absolutely sublime once more as he continued his fine reign of form. Kicking seven goals, a drop goal, and having a hand in everything good that Hull FC did, he won a deserved man of the match award, but in a commanding performance there were so many significant contributions beside him.
Scoring two tries and dominating the middle of the park, boyhood Hull FC fan Scott Taylor was sensational in two superb stints. Danny Houghton too ran his blood to water as always and Fetuli Talanoa on the wing was immense.
Hull, who have picked themselves up superbly from that rancid night at Widnes, were just on another level. With a loyal and passionate away following stood behind the sticks, going into the quarter finals never seemed an obstacle, and even when Saints took an early 6-0 lead.
The Black and White army made Langtree Park feel like a home game, such was their emotion, passion and consistent roars from the terraces. They packed out the end and you could sense what was to follow. It had that big game feeling about it and Hull just didn’t disappoint.
That script didn’t go to plan early on though as Mark Percival went over for the games first score, but Hull just went through the gears in their fourth consecutive victory in a town where their previous record at Knowsley Road had been woeful at best.
With quick play of the balls, strong carries and a varied style of rugby, Hull never found metres difficult to make as they hit the front foot with ease, both stretching and constricting their opposition to great effect.
Houghton responded off a line break and vintage offload from veteran half back Leon Pryce, before Taylor then powered his way to the try line and after Sneyd put captain Gareth Ellis over Hull were 18-6 up and fully deserving of it.
Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook hit back for Saints, but some great awareness from Jamie Shaul to score from the ruck and a textbook Sneyd drop goal put Hull 25-12 up at half time.
Luke Walsh ran away for a superb try early in the second half, but then Hull, and just like they did in the first half, stepped it up once more.
Their attack at times was devastating and when it clicked it was an absolute joy to watch.
Hull looked to stretch St Helens at every opportunity with expansive and eye-catching play – a far cry from their oppositions un-Saints like early tactics to kick to touch and slow the game down. No wonder head coach Kieran Cunningham is under pressure.
Saints just couldn’t live with Hull. They’re not the entertainers anymore and this was most unlike them. Hull though, and despite making hard work if it in the league fixture last month, made it count.
A peach of a cut out pass found Curtis Naughton who finished superbly in yet another energetic and classy display. Sneyd missed his first conversion, but soon kicked a penalty goal after to restore a three score lead.
Kirk Yeaman then scored following a superb take and offload by Talanoa from a Sneyd bomb, with Taylor completing his brace as a result from sheer brute force to bring up the forty point mark.
The best though was yet to come, as Fetuli Talanoa incredibly finished airborne for a terrific try, rounding off a celebratory afternoon as the travelling Hull FC crowd went wild. Dare to dream? On that showing, yes. Que Sera Sera? Steady on, mate.
St Helens XIII: 1. Jonny Lomax, 21. Matty Dawson, 18. Dominic Peyroux, 4. Mark Percival, 22. Jack Owens, 19. Theo Fages, 7. Luke Walsh, 8. Alex Walmsley, 9. James Roby, 10. Kyle Amor, 11. Atelea Vae, 20. Joe Greenwood, 12. Jon Wilkin. Interchange: 13. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 14. Lama Tasi, 15. Greg Richards, 28. Morgan Knowles.
Saints Tries: Percival, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Walsh. Goals: Walsh 3/3.
Hull Starting XIII: 1. Jamie Shaul, 20. Curtis Naughton, 2. Mahe Fonua, 24. Kirk Yeaman, 5. Fetuli Talanoa, 6. Leon Pryce, 7. Marc Sneyd, 8. Scott Taylor, 9. Danny Houghton, 10. Liam Watts, 12. Mark Minichiello, 30. Danny Washbrook, 11. Gareth Ellis. Interchange: 15. Chris Green, 16. Jordan Thompson, 17. Dean Hadley, 22. Josh Bowden.
Hull Tries: Houghton, Taylor 2, Ellis, Shaul, Naughton, Yeaman, Talanoa. Goals: 7/9. Drop Goal: Sneyd.
3-2-1 Man of the Match: 3pts Danny Houghton, 2pts Gareth Ellis, 1pt Marc Sneyd
Scoring System: 6-0, 6-6, 6-12, 6-18, 12-18, 12-24, 12-25, 18-25, 18-29, 18-31, 18-37, 18-43, 18-47.
Referee: Richard Silverwood