• December 10, 2023

Challenge Cup semi-final: St Helens beat Hull FC 33-18 to make final

Fuselage FC (2) 18
Tries: Country, Houghton, Scott Gates: Sneyd 3
St. Helens (14) 33
Tries: Grace 2, Fages, Welsby, Coote Gates: Coote 6 Drop target: Fages

St Helens held up a brilliant comeback from Hull FC to claim a semi-final victory in the Challenge Cup.

Saints looked like they were in control after Marc Sneyd Hull stepped into an early lead.

Regan Grace made a spectacular landing before Theo Fages scored down after Josh Griffin released the ball from injury.

Jack Welsby extended their lead before Hull fought back to three points, but Grace intercepted to run in and Lachlan Coote went over to finish it.

There was little sign of the game’s great ending as Welsby gave the Saints a 20-2 lead just over 30 minutes from time.

However, the men of Brett Hodgson showed tremendous resilience to fight their way back thanks to the attempts of Mahe Fonua, Danny Houghton and Cameron Scott.

When time was running out and Hull was pressing for a jaw-dropping victory, Jake Connors ‘pass was intercepted by Grace and the Welshman ran through the field to secure the Saints’ place at Wembley for good.

Connor was then hit to a high ball by the brilliant Kevin Naiqama and Coote gave the game a slightly unfair end result.

The win for St. Helens means that after their win this season they have a chance to make it a Challenge Cup double Women’s team defeated York City Knights formerly at Leigh Sports Village.

The fight between the black and white falls short of the mark

Before Hull’s brilliant comeback, it had looked like the game would be marked by a controversial moment midway through the first half.

Fages landed unchallenged after Griffin collapsed with an Achilles injury trying to get the ball off his own line and dropped it when it fell to the ground.

Hull had got off to a better start and took a deserved lead with Sneyd’s penalty, but Saints soon took advantage of their first decent field position to hit the scoreboard with a wonderful touchdown in the corner of Grace after a fine pass from Fages.

Fages then met the ire of Hull fans as he used Griffin’s bad luck to score Saints’ second try.

Welsby showed good attention to getting the ball on the line when attacked to extend the lead to 18 points, but Hull quickly had his first try of the game when Fonua fell.

That gave Brett Hodgson’s men a second wind, and although Fages hit a drop goal to scoop three hits, they showed resilience to adversity when Houghton touched down after Carlos Tuimavave’s dump to give them another lifeline.

Scott then ran in when Hull suddenly closed the gap to three points to set up a grandstand finish before Grace’s attempt to escape in scorching temperatures ended a pulsating game as competition and Saints will now attempt to win a first Challenge Cup since 2008.

Hull FC manager Brett Hodgson told BBC One:

“We lost the game mid-way through the first half. Unfortunate circumstances Josh Griffin went under but I don’t know if the result reflects the second half.

“We think Josh made his Achilles pretty bad, it’s a bad one.

“It’s the rules of the game, Theo Fages has the opportunity to take them up, it’s fair play.”

Morgan Knowles of St. Helens told BBC One:

“Really good, it was a tough game in this heat. They scared us a little in the second half, but Regan Grace got the interceptor.

“I’m just trying to do some of the hard work, start the chase, and tear the sentences off. I’m happy to win.”

St. Helens: Coote, Makinson, Naiqama, Welsby, Grace, Lomax, Fages, Walmsley, Roby, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Mata’utia, Thompson, Knowles.

Exchange: Cupid, Batchelor, Dodd, Norman.

Hull FC: Connor; Swift, Griffin, Tuimavave, Fonua, Reynolds, Sneyd, Sao, Houghton, Satae, Savelio, Ma’u, Lane.

Exchange: Brown, Fash, Bowden, Scott.


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