Hull Kingston Rovers 0 St Helens 50: Rovers reach end of road as Wilkin exposes frailties

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The Independent Online

Saints produced a dominant Challenge Cup semi-final performance on Saturday to leave their National League opponents unable to compete. There was never the slightest chance of a slip-up as they took early control and retained it throughout.

"They are the best club side in the world," said Rovers' coach, Justin Morgan. Perhaps a slight exaggeration, but a justifiable one. "They put an immense amount of pressure on you all the time and we just weren't prepared for that, because we don't play that intense brand of rugby league all the time."

The difference between the best in Super League and the best outside was clear from the start as Saints took the lead with early tries from Sean Long and the former Rovers player Jon Wilkin.

When Wilkin scored a quick second, there was a fear that Rovers could be heading for a scoreline to rival Wigan's record 71-10 win over Bradford in 1992. To their credit, they worked hard to slow the avalanche, but Saints extended their lead before half-time through Vinnie Anderson.

Jamie Lyon got a try to add to his seven goals before a rapid double from Willie Talau and further tries from Ade Gardner and Paul Wellens as the Saints back line took full toll. Rovers, beset by injuries, had their moments, but could not avoid a whitewash.

Saints' coach, Daniel Anderson, a friend of Morgan from their time together in Australia and New Zealand, paid tribute to Rovers' effort, but there was never the faintest prospect of them adding another Super League scalp to that of Warrington. Saints said they were motivated by memories of losing to Hull at the same stage last season and that was the way they looked.

For Rovers, there is the sobering thought that, should they win the promotion on which they have set their hearts, there will be plenty of games as challenging as this next season.

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

Hull Kingston Rovers: Cockayne; Steel, Couturier, Goddard, Ford; Morton, Webster; Aizue, Fisher, Tangata-Toa, Morrison, Netherton, Gallagher. Substitutes used: Joseph, Rivett, Garmston, Barker.

Referee: K Kirkpatrick (Warrington)