Cooke leaves Saints in real stew

Hull 34 St Helens 8
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The Independent Online

Hull, inspired by a mighty forward effort and guided around the field by Paul Cooke, hammered Saints, obliterating all the ugly memories of their defeat here by Leeds in 2000, when their fans demolished the uprights in a post-match pitch invasion.

This was a memorable return for all the right reasons and their coach, John Kear, insisted that the belief within the camp had always been strong.

"Everybody else had just written us off and we were pretty peeved about that," he said. "We had a plan, the players bought into it and carried it out to near perfection.''

Saints' Daniel Anderson, beaten for the first time as their coach, was forced to admit that the more committed side had won after his men were made to look ordinary by Hull's sheer vigour.

Hull dominated the first half and took the lead through Cooke's penalty when Paul Anderson held down Ewan Dowes. Hull were winning all the early collisions and putting Saints on the back foot. After they had forced a second drop-out, Cooke engineered the only try of the first half, holding up his pass fractionally to send Shayne McMenemy through a hole. Cooke's conversion landed on top of the post, and therefore did not count.

Even when they got some possession, Saints could make little headway against some ferocious Hull tackling. It took a quick pair of penalties to move them up the field, Paul Sculthorpe putting over the second to put them on the board.

Cooke was only allowed to play by a disciplinary hearing that limited his suspension for a recent sending-off to a single game. His break almost got Richard Horne away for a second Hull try, but the Saints defence managed to scramble back. They were forced to scramble again when Graeme Horne went close and then conceded a penalty for Sean Long's swinging arm, Cooke this time clipping over the goal.

Saints had scarcely been in the game, but they almost made the mark before half-time when Ritchie Barnett's desperate tackle did just enough to force Ade Gardner's foot on to the touchline before he touched down in the corner.

Five minutes after the break, Saints finally got over. Long hoisted a high kick, Shaun Briscoe and Gareth Raynor made a mess of it between them and Jamie Lyon was there to scoop it up and score. Sculthorpe's kick tied the scores.

Hull's response to that setback was magnificent. Within a couple of minutes, Cooke had put them back in front with a penalty. Then he took a return pass from McMenemy and managed to stretch out and plant the ball on the line for the converted - by him - and vital score.

Cooke was the catalyst yet again when another thrust at the heart of the Saints defence saw the ball run loose, Richard Horne getting a toe to it and McMenemy arriving to gather up and plunge over.

Ten minutes from time, Hull repulsed insistent pressure. Stephen Kearney sent Richard Whiting to the other end of the field and, though his pass was wayward, Motu Tony was there to touch down for the try.

Just to emphasise their superiority, Hull scored again in injury-time, Kearney serving the ball up for Richard Horne and Danny Brough completing the scoreline on what was a famous occasion for all the right reasons.

Hull: Briscoe; Barnett, Whiting, Yeaman, Raynor; R Horne, Brough; Dowes, Swain, Carvell, McMenemy, Kearney, Cooke. Substitutes used: King, Tony, Thackeray, G Horne.

St Helens: Wellens; Albert, Lyon, Talau, Gardner; Hooper, Long; Fozzard, Cunningham, P Anderson, V Anderson, Gilmour, Sculthorpe. Substitutes used: Wilkin, Graham, Roby, Fa'asavalu.

Referee: A Klein (London).