King rules over sorry Saints as Hull run riot

Hull 34 - St Helens 6
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The Independent Online

Hull moved into second place in Super League by completely outplaying an insipid St Helens at the KC Stadium.

Not only did they dismantle Saints' defence with inventive attacking play based on their ability to keep the ball alive, they also came within a couple of minutes of becoming the first team in the nine years of the competition to keep them scoreless.

It said everything about the new standards Hull are setting themselves that they were furious when they let Lee Gilmour score to preserve that record, although the win would have been particularly sweet for the man who used to coach Saints, Shaun McRae, who now inspires Hull's progress up the table.

Hull's easier run-in makes them a good bet to finish in the top two at the end of the season and they had a major boost before this game when their wing Gareth Raynor declared himself fit an hour before kick-off, having recovered from injuring his knee crashing into an advertising hoarding at Warrington.

Hull had an early touchdown by Paul King disallowed for a clear double movement, but within 13 minutes the home side had a handsome 12-point lead.

Richard Horne, such a force for them at scrum-half all season, was heavily involved in both. First he took a perfectly weighted pass from Shayne McMenemy to go through an inviting gap in a hesitant Saints defence.

Then he supplied the pass that sent Ewan Dowes romping through an even bigger hole in a similar area of the field. Shaun Briscoe arrived in support at precisely the right moment and Saints were undone again. Paul Cooke put over both conversions and the only disappointment for Hull was that they did not add more points against a side that was asking them so few questions.

Saints' position worsened considerably when their inspirational captain, Paul Sculthorpe, limped off with a thigh injury which had clearly been hampering him from the start.

Hull went further ahead when Keith Mason was penalised for a high tackle on Andy Bailey and Cooke stroked over his third goal.

Saints would have settled for that as a half-time deficit, but two minutes before the interval Ade Gardner fumbled Horne's high kick and, from the scrum, Hull moved the ball briskly to the left for Cooke's pass to send Kirk Yeaman over in the corner.

Saints showed a little more aggression and enterprise at the start of the second half, but they were again given a lesson in finishing after 47 minutes. The man-of-the-match, King, sent Briscoe through with a superb pass and the full-back's kick bounced up perfectly for Colin Best to squeeze inside the corner flag. Cooke missed that goal but added a penalty when Jon Wilkin went high in a tackle on King, before some more glorious handling, with just a hint of a forward pass, saw Briscoe and Yeaman but Raynor over.

Saints' tendency to be drawn into the middle was exploited again when Cooke's long ball gave Yeaman a clear run in on the left wing for his second. It has been a long, long time since Saints have been embarrassed like this and you could see Hull steeling themselves to inflict the final humiliation by keeping their line intact. Gilmour denied them that, but, on this sort of form, no-one is likely to deny Hull a serious stab at play-off success this year.

Hull: S Briscoe; C Best, K Yeaman, R Whiting, G Raynor; P Cooke, R Horne; E Dowes, R Swain, P King, S McMenemy, P McNicholas, J Smith. Substitutes used: G Horne, A Bailey, N Scruton, R Barnett Jnr.

St Helens: P Wellens; A Gardner, L Gilmour, W Talau, D Albert; J Hooper, J Roby; N Fozzard, K Cunningham, K Mason, J Stankevitch, J Wilkin, P Sculthorpe. Substitutes used: M Edmondson, R Bibey, M Fa'asavalu, I Hardman.

Referee: K Kirkpatrick (Warrington)

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