Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
3 days ago
Picking a winner going into this match was always going to be a decision most punters would be making without too much confidence. Two teams that boasted significantly different sides than in Super League VIII, there was always the a large potential opportunity that the opening round premiership points could be heading East to Hull instead of staying with favourites St Helens.
In front of a strong crowd of over 12,000, St Helens were ready to perform after a reasonably average season last year (based on their standards), rallying together to see Kiwi International, Willie Talau, cross just five minutes after kick off.
Sean Long missed the conversion, and Hull clawed back some of the Saints lead with a Paul Cooke penalty on the 10th minute.
Saints hit back in the best way possible, capitalising on a Sean Briscoe error, allowing Jason Hooper to open his scoring for 2004 in just the 14th minute. Long added the extras and the home side was up 10 ? 2. .
Things just turned ugly then for Hull, with Gareth Raynor sin-binned, ex-Warrington player, Nick Fozzard scored in the 17th and 26th minutes to put the home team up 20 ? 2 at half time, and in control of the match.
Hull needed something to go their way, and finally got a stroke of luck when a short kick off for the resumption of play went their way, allowing Gareth Raynor to score just a few minutes later.
An 80 metre run-away try then to Colin Best, put Hull in an even better position, unfortunately for FC, Keiron Cunningham displayed how he is back to his best scoring a try to ensure the home team retained the lead.
Best scored in the corner to try and offer a small glimmer of hope for the visitors, but when Samoan player, Feaunati, scored in the 70th minute the game was as good as over.
Saints can take a lot out of the match, however will need to work on a few areas in order to beat the inform Bulls in the Challenge Cup clash next round.
ST HELENS 30 Tries: Fozzard 2, Talau, Seaumat, Cunningham, Hooper Goals: Long 3 Team: Paul Wellens, Darren Albert, Martin Gleeson, Willie Talau, Dom Feaunati, Jason Hooper, Sean Long, Nick Fozzard, Keiron Cunningham, Mark Edmondson, Chris Joynt, Lee Gilmour, Paul Sculthorpe; Subs: Ian Hardman, Mike Bennett, Mick Higham, Keith Mason defeated HULL FOOTBALL CLUB 16 Tries: Best 2, Raynor Goals: Cooke 2 Team: Shaun Briscoe, Colin Best, Richie Barnett, Michael Eagar, Gareth Raynor, Paul Cooke, Richard Horne, Paul King, Richard Swain, Ewan Dowes, Kirk Yeaman, Shayne McMenemy, Chris Chester; Subs: Alex Wilkinson, Peter Lupton, Paul Mc Nicholas, Garreth Carvell Venue: Knowsley Road (St Helens) Crowd: 12,532 Date: Fri Feb 20 8.00pm Referee: Richard Silverwood (Mirfield) Half time: St Helens 20-2 First Try: 4th: Willie Talau (St Helens)