- Match Centre
SAINTS battled to a thrilling 22-22 draw against Hull FC at Langtree Park.
A Josh Jones' try with half an hour remaining looked to have settled a classic contest only for the visitors to almost pull off a shock comeback.
The home side deservedly led 16-12 at half time thanks to tries from Anthony Laffranchi, Francis Meli and Jordan Turner.
It was a 40 minutes of guile and craft; the home side looking good with ball in hand but suffering through errors in their own half.
Hull forged ahead through Jason Crookes - Shannon McDonnell adding a late try.
Saints had the better of the opening stages of the second half with Jones' try, but an injury to captain Paul Wellens forced a reshuffle and sparked Hull's comeback.
Two missed drop goals from Hull and Saints' rearguard action ensuring the points were shared.
Alex Walmsley made his Saints' debut off the bench whilst James Roby returned in place of the injured Lance Hohaia.
Hull were unchanged from the side that beat Bradford last weekend and that continuity showed as they got off to the best possible start.
After a real battle in the forwards they forced a Saints' error and profited for the opening score.
Great handling saw the ball fly right and Jason Crookes plunged over. Daniel Holdsworth converting.
Saints ensured parity almost immediately. A high ball from Lee Gaskell caused panic; the ball was recycled and James Roby flicked it back for Anthony Laffranchi to cross.
Gaskell tagging the extras.
Buoyed, Saints came again and another high ball caused mayhem in the Hull defence.
Jon Wilkin's high ball had McDonnell scrambling and moments later fast, slick passing saw Francis Meli grab his third of the season.
Gaskell firing it off the touchline for 12-6.
With less than 15 minutes to go Tommy Makinson defended a kick to the corner he had no right to get to - conceding a drop out.
But Saints defended the set and then turned that hard work into points. Two penalties got them down the field and Jordan Turner showed all his strength and power to force his way over.
Hull pulled one back through McDonnell and almost got in again after a number of errors and repeat sets.
Saints began the second half on the front foot battering Hull's line and consistently pinging them back with some tough tackling.
And it was that defence that was converted into more points. This time Tony Puletua held up the ball just long enough for Jonny Lomax to combine with Lee Gaskell to send in Josh Jones.
Gaskell tagging on his third two-pointer of the evening.
Tom Briscoe replied when another kick to the corner wasn't cleared - goaled by Holdsworth - and then had another sustained period of pressure on Saints' line.
A knock on blew one chance but it was one penalty too many for the home side and more sets to defend.
Hull crossed but a forward pass denied the four-pointer.
Saints defended three more sets on their line but on the fourth - after a bizarre scrum call - Richard Whiting put them level.
It was an awful call after a blatant knock on - but the conversion was missed and Saints lived to fight another day.
Hull tried a drop goal from 45 metres that just missed and another from 30 that Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook just about did enough to make it miss.
Saints had 60 seconds to set up a chance of their own but it was too much of an ask.
Tries: Laffranchi, Meli, Turner, Jones
Goals: Gaskell (3 from 4)
Tries: Crookes, McDonnell, Briscoe, Whiting
Goals: Holdsworth (3 from 3)
Hull FC: 5
REF: Ben Thaler
1. Paul Wellens; 21. Tommy Makinson, 3. Jordan Turner, 19. Josh Jones, 5. Francis Meli; 20. Lee Gaskell, 7. Jonny Lomax; 11. Tony Puletua, 9. James Roby, 14. Anthony Laffranchi, 4. Sia Soliola, 12. Jon Wilkin, 13. Willie Manu.
Subs: 10. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 15. Mark Flanagan. 24. Joe Greenwood, 25. Alex Walmsley.
1. Shannon McDonnell; 2. Jason Crookes, 3. Ben Crooks, 4. Kirk Yeaman, 5. Tom Briscoe; 6. Daniel Holdsworth, 16. Richard Horne; 8. Mark O'Meley, 9. Danny Houghton, 10. Andy Lynch, 15. Ben Galea, 21. Chris Green, 13. Joe Westerman.
Subs: 14. Richard Whiting, 19. Jay Pitts, 20. Paul Johnson, 33. Aaron Heremaia.