A strong finish that brought three tries in the last quarter ensured that Ian Millward's reign as the St Helens coach began with a morale-boosting victory.
Millward will have seen plenty that still needs to be worked on in this uneven performance, but the way that Saints survived a shaky phase in mid game to power in with tries from Sean Long, Chris Joynt and Paul Sculthorpe suggested that last year's Super League winners could yet be a force this season.
Fifteen minutes into the game Millward might have thought that coaching in Super League was a relatively straightforward business. He had Paul Wellens, mainly used as a half-back by his predecessor Ellery Hanley but used last night as a stand-in full-back, to thank for his encouraging start.
In the first minute, Matt Daylight could only help Long's kick into touch and from the scrum Kevin Iro stretched Hull's defence. Wellens took Tommy Martyn's pass to go over in the corner, Long putting over a touchline conversion to embellish a perfect start.
After Ben Sammut had replied with a penalty, Wellans claimed his second, pouncing on Long's low angled kick for another converted try. Saints were looking good, running with purpose and defending with a determination that had been missing this year, but unfortunately their effort quickly tailed off. First they stood and watched as Mick Jenkins came through to dive on to a loose ball for one try and then, after Deon Bird had a touchdown from Will Robinson's cross kick disallowed, Saints were swept aside by an attack through Robinson and David Maiden which ended with Steve Collins scoring and Sammut's goal putting Hull ahead at half-time.
For a long time the second half was a wrestling match that Hull looked destined to win. Saints' best chances of regaining the lead seemed to have gone when Chris Smith was brought back because of a fight that saw Vila Matautia and Bird sin-binned, then Paul Newlove was stopped inches short.
But the gaps started to appear and St Helens took full advantage. Long produced one of his arcing runs to put Saints in the lead. Then Joynt took Kieron Cunningham's pass to go through another inviting chink in Hull's armour and Sculthorpe brushed off a series of tackles down the left. Brian Carney's late try was spectacular and again underlined his raw potential, but it could not deny Millward his happy beginning.
Hull Sharks: Sammut, Carney, Collins, Bird, Daylight, Robinson, Horne, Broadbent, Jenkins, Hick, Felsch, Maher, Maiden. Substitutes used: Simon, Jene, Grimaldi, McDonald.
St Helens: Wellens, Smith, Iro, Newlove, Sullivan, Martyn, Long, Nickle, Cunningham, O'Neill, Joynt, Tuilagi , Sculthorpe,
Substitutes used: Perelini, Hoppe, Matautia, Stankevitch.
Referee: S Cummings (Widnes).
Ellery Hanley yesterday expressed outrage and amazement at his dismissal by St Helens, who terminated his two-year contract with eight months to run.
Hanley has engaged the sports lawyer Richard Cramer to prepare a case claiming wrongful and unfair dismissal and breach of contract. Kramer said: "No offer of compensation has been made and, other than the one letter outlining the reasons for termination, Ellery has had no further correspondence. We want to know if they have any proposals to make to pay up the balance of the contract but there is also a matter of principle here. There is a question of whether they were entitled to terminate his contract."
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