St Helens climbed to second in the table after a close-fought tie with bottom-placed Hull Kingston Rovers.
Saints’ Alex Walmsley opened the scoring on the five-minute mark after a couple of errors by Rovers, with full back Lachlan Coote’s conversion making it 6-0 to the Merseysiders.
Coote’s opposite number Adam Quinlan was tackled in goal the second minute, gifting a second set to St Helens – who themselves lose the ball in the second tackled but then get it back on the 30m mark after a knock-on. A set restart on the 10m line kept up the pressure and a relative simple offload from James Roby at dummy half allowed Walmsley to power over.
And the Red Vee could have scored again in the right-hand corner in the eighth minute, but a rare poor pass from Coote went into touch when Jack Welsby appeared to have an open tryline in front of him.
But the winger made no mistake on the quarter hour when a cut-out pass from Jonny Lomax released him after James Roby pounced on a loose ball and he strolled in over the line. Coote converted again for a 12-0 lead to Saints.
Rovers got back into the game 10 minutes later though when Quinlan squeezed into the right corner despite the attention of two Saints defenders trying to tackle him into touch. A touchline conversion from Jamie Ellis meant game on for the Hull team.
And they capitalised on it just a minute later when Ethan Ryan outjumped Regan Grace contesting a high kick and grounded the ball.
This time, though, Ellis couldn’t convert the touchline kick and Saints were left with a narrow 12-10 lead.
Life was made harder for the St Helens team when Theo Fages was substituted after an awkward challenge while kicking. That was followed immediately by a 40-20 return kick from Ellis and pressure on the Saints’ line, which came to nothing as the ball came loose and KR lost possession. Rovers kept the pressure on, though, in defence and subsequent attack.
But Saints weathered the storm.
Both sides had chances in the run-up to half time, but the final score of the half came as the hooter sounded, courtesy of Ellis’s boot after Rovers won a penalty in front of the post. The much-travelled half-back put the ball over the crossbar and the teams entered the dressing rooms with the score tied at 12-12.
St Helens restored their lead on 47 minutes which a quick short pass from Coote to Kevin Naiqama saw the centre cut inside against the KR defensive line’s movement and ground the ball. Coote’s conversion extended the gap to six points at 18-12.
Rovers suffered another blow on 55 minutes when Quinlan went off with broken forearm, with Ryan Brierley moving to full back.
Aaron Smith, playing hooker to cover Roby’s move to the halves after the Fages injury, then took the score further out, dancing over the line on 59 minutes, while Coote’s conversion mean Saints were once again sitting on a 12-point lead.
Just minutes later, with the ball moving out to the right, Roby passed the ball out to Welsby who ran in to ground the ball in the corner. Coote made the score 30-12 with 17 minutes to go when he kicked from the touchline.
There was no way back from that for the team from East Hull. Not that that stopped Matt Parcell who took advantage of a poorly set defensive line from Saints to dart over and add to Rovers’ score. Ellis converted and the score was now 30-18, with 10 minutes to the final hooter.
Two scores in 10 minutes might not impossible, but Coote made it three-scores needed when he kicked a penalty a 32-18 scoreline, which was the way it stayed until the final hooter.
Hull KR: Quinlan (T), Kenny-Dowall, Linnett, Minnikin, Parcell (T), Hauraki, Lawler, Ryan (T), Gee, Storton, Ellis (2G, 1 Pen), Brierley, Peteru. Substitutes: Mulhern, Hadley, Murray, Maher.
St Helens: Coote (5G), Naiqama (T), Grace, Lomax, Fages, Walmsley (T), Roby, Taia, Lees, Bentley, Costello, Welsby (2T), Graham. Substitutes: Peyroux, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Amor, Smith (T).
Referee: S Mikalauskas.
Ground: Halliwell Jones Stadium, Warrington.