St Helens settled for a point from a gripping match that marked a rehabilitation for both sides yesterday. Thrashed by Wigan last weekend and forced to defend virtually all afternoon at the KC Stadium, they had a decision to make when awarded an easy penalty with two minutes left and a two-point gap.
The Saints' way would have been to run it in search of a cavalier winning try. "But we couldn't take that risk," said the club's caretaker-coach, Mike Rush. So Tom Makinson kicked the goal and both sides had something to show for their efforts.
Saints deserved that for their defending. After taking an early lead with tries from Adam Swift and Lance Hohaia, they spent the rest of the time repelling wave after wave of Hull attacks. The only time they cracked in the first half was when Brett Seymour and Richard Horne put Richard Whiting over.
Hull should have been level after 50 minutes, but Danny Tickle missed an easy conversion of Horne's try. Jon Wilkin extended Saints' lead with a try from a Jonny Lomax pass, but Tickle's try and goal levelled it at 16-16.
Tickle's penalty edged Hull ahead and Jordan Turner missed a chance to clinch the game when he knocked-on with the line open. That left the door ajar for Saints. Hull were caught offside from a high kick and Makinson kept his nerve.
"I've never coached a side at any level which has had to defend as much as that," Rush said. "It was certainly better than what we've been producing."
His opposite number, Peter Gentle, gave credit where it was due but believed his side should have done better with the bulk of possession, a week after the heartbreak of their last-minute defeat to Hull KR in Manchester. "They defended very well, but we were probably guilty of panicking," he said.
* There was drama elsewhere in Super League yesterday. Warrington looked to be on their way to a comfortable victory at Hull KR, but were pegged back to 22-22 before the home side's Michael Dobson won the match with a drop goal in the last minute. There was an even bigger shock at Widnes, who led early on against Huddersfield, fell behind and then came back to win with a Cameron Phelps try, also in the last minute. Wakefield had a more routine 24-6 victory over the London Broncos.