Rugby League: Grant reaps rewards for Hull: Frustrated Saints stumble under pressure and fail to regain composure as non-league hopefuls prepare to strike out on Challenge Cup trail

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The Independent Online
Hull. .18

St Helens. .14

HULL inflicted further damage on St Helens' Stones Bitter Championship hopes last night with a fourth defeat of the season that should, on the balance of play, have been far heavier.

Saints were grateful for the composure of their full-back, Steve Prescott, when Hull put them under early pressure. Once that was weathered, Prescott put them ahead, backing up a fine break from Chris Joynt. To emphasise his all-round potential, Prescott also scored the goal from a difficult angle.

Hull's reply was swift and owed everything to Saints' hesitancy in defence. Jeff Doyle's kick should have been dealt with, but Mike Riley and Phil Veivers made a mess of it and James Grant followed up to score.

Saints' tackling was also highly fallible and Hull took advantage for their second try, Des Hasler reaching out to score. Paul Eastwood, who had missed the first goal, put this one over via the post.

Some impressive Hull play was only interrupted by a fight between Mike Dixon and Jonathan Griffiths which saw both dispatched to the sin bin. More in keeping with their superiority was another all-Australian try, Hasler's long pass putting Grant outside the hapless Riley for his second touchdown.

The reminder that for all their superiority, they had not yet won the game hit Hull when an offside penalty on a rare Saints' attack allowed Prescott to narrow the lead to six points.

The try that gave Saints new hope was a fluke, Sonny Nickle throwing a loose pass which was touched down by Joynt from a rebound off his knee. Prescott's kick put Saints within four points, but it would have been the injustice of the season if they had snatched victory at the death.

Hull: Gay; Eastwood, R Nolan, Grant, G Nolan; Doyle, Hasler; Jackson, Dixon, Street (Danby, 70), Divet (Cassidy, 66), Wilson, Sharp (Divet, 75).

St Helens: Prescott; Riley (Haigh, 58), Griffiths, Loughlin, Sullivan; Veivers, Cooper; Neill (O'Donnell, 24), Dwyer, Dannatt (Neill, 58), Mann, Nickle, Joynt.

Referee: J Connolly (Wigan).