Hull KR 18 St Helens 24: Long's vision lifts Saints

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The Independent Online

The Challenge Cup winners for the last two seasons refused to relinquish their trophy despite being pushed all the way by a Rovers side who felt that they did enough to win this quarter-final. Afterwards the Hull KR coach, Justin Morgan, repeated his call for the video referee to be used at all matches after two disallowed tries made all the difference to the outcome.

But yesterday's other key factor was Saints' extra composure in a crisis. Sean Long will have a lot of tidier games than this one, but he was there to score an opportunist try, create another and kick a conversion from the touchline when points were precious near the end. "He had a very mixed game, but he's come up with the huge plays," said his coach, Daniel Anderson.

"Rovers played very, very well but we just weren't going to give it up."

Saints knew they were in for a severe test right from the start when Paul Cooke scored from Michael Dobson's clever kick after only three minutes. Rovers continued to dominate until Peter Fox lost the ball in Jon Wilkin's tackle and Saints, like the predators they are, scored two tries in three minutes through Willie Talau and, with his first touch, Maurie Fa'asavalu.

Rovers had Sean Briscoe's try disallowed for obstruction and Ben Cockayne's for not grounding the ball – both decisions would have been worth another look – although Saints were equally baffled by Leon Pryce's failure to score.

The Robins drew level on half-time with Daniel Fitzhenry's counterattack from Long's kick and had the better of field position in the second half. It was Long, however, who found a chink in the defence to put Saints in front.

Another Dobson kick produced an equalising try for Jake Webster, but Cooke missed a 40-yard penalty that would have put Rovers ahead after Fa'asavalu went high on Briscoe.Instead, Long found Aidy Gardner, on a vacant wing, with a long pass and then added the difficult goal. Rovers could have taken the game into extra time if Chris Chester had been able to touch down but the ball was knocked from his hand by Pryce.

Hull KR: Briscoe; Box, Cockayne, Webster, Fitzhenry; Cooke, Dobson; Vella, Fisher, Crossman, Newton, Gene, Walker. Substitutes used: Mills, Chester, Lovegrove, Watts.

St Helens: Wellens; Gardner, Gidley, Talau, Meli; Pryce, Long; Cayless, Cunningham, Graham, Gilmour, Flannery, Wilkin. Substitutes used: Roby, Hargreaves, Clough, Fa'asavalu.

Referee: A Klein (Keighley).

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