Matty Smith's penalty from the touchline rescued St Helens seconds from time as they won the battle of the walking wounded at Knowsley Road.
Hull were on their way to only their second win at Saints in the Super League when Adam Dykes instinctively grabbed the ball in an offside position. Smith, deputising for the injured Sean Long, lined up the wide-angled kick, and team-mates and crowd were delirious as he slotted it between the posts to decide a game whose quality belied the 15 players missing from the two sides.
It was Hull who had clicked into gear first, thanks to Dykes. He kicked ahead for Danny Tickle and then got up in support to complete the move.
Dykes was also at the heart of the sustained pressure that brought a second try after only eight minutes, Danny Houghton placing the ball over the line almost as an afterthought and Tickle adding his second goal.
Stunned into the extra effort they sometimes reserve for the final minutes of matches, Saints hit back, a series of tackles battering the Hull line and ending with Matt Gidley sending Ade Gardner over.
They continued to repair the damage when some brilliant build-up work featuring James Roby set up Smith to touch down and kick the conversion.
Tickle's penalty for offside extended Hull's lead to four points, but their injury problems continued when Todd Byrne was carried off after twisting a leg. Their advantage was wiped out three minutes before half-time by a beautifully constructed try created by Leon Pryce's pass to Paul Wellens and a slide-rule kick for Willie Talau, Smith's goal putting Saints ahead.
Wellens, by now playing at loose forward, linked up with Pryce again to pave the way for Kyle Eastmond to stretch that lead before the break.
The balance shifted again when Craig Hall took an interception from Pryce and went 80 metres to score after half time. Hull were back in front after 45 minutes when Hall kicked on the last tackle and the ball was eventually scooped up by Danny Washbrook.
They went further ahead 12 minutes from time through Kirk Yeaman. However, Tickle's missed conversion left the door ajar for Saints to equalise when Roby kicked through and took advantage when Washbrook hesitated. Dykes kept his head to send over a drop goal to give Hull the edge but it was Smith's kick that made the final difference.
St Helens: Wellens; Gardner, Gidley, Calau, Meli; Pryce, Smith; Hargreaves, Cunningham, Graham, Gilmour, Clough, Roby. Substitutes: Bennett, Tyrer, Eastmond, Frodsham.
Hull: Tony; Sing, Byrne, Yeaman, Raynor; Washbrook, Dykes; Cusack, Houghton, King, Horne, Tickle, Lee. Substitutes: Briscoe, Hall, Burnett, Wheeldon.
Referee: R Silverwood (Mirfield).Reuse content