Yates’ Verdict: only an unprecedented dip in form can stop St Helens lifting League Leaders’ Shield

A thumping 60-6 victory over Hull FC at the MKM Stadium means Saints are guaranteed a top four spot.

<p>St Helens smashed Hull FC </p>

St Helens smashed Hull FC

A smile of self-satisfaction will have spread across the faces of Saints’ players and their fans as they set off on an 115 mile journey home from Humberside on Sunday night.

St Helens are fully aware that only an unprecedented or alarming dip in form will prevent them from lifting the League Leaders’ Shield for the eighth time since its inception in 2003.

A thumping 60-6 victory over Hull FC at the MKM Stadium means they are also guaranteed a top four spot on a weekend their three main rivals, Wigan Warriors, Catalans Dragons, and |Huddersfield Giants, all lost.

There’s little likelihood of the shield going anywhere other  than  the Totally Wicked Stadium trophy cabinet.

Head coach Kristian Woolf was delighted with his side’s attitude and ability to wear Hull down before dismantling their hosts in an attacking masterclass either side of half-time.

Saints went behind early on and had to wait until the half-hour mark to take the lead, but once they did they cut loose in style, scoring 11 tries en route to their biggest win of the year so far.

“I liked the energy we started with and the intent, but what I was happiest with was our ability to stay in the dog fight and wear them down,” Woolf said.

“Our best period was just before half-time, where we played some really good footy and scored some really nice tries and we had to work hard to find those points.”

The Saints’ boss had particular praise for his bench forwards, with Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook bagging two tries and Agnatius Paasi having a huge impact in his side’s period of dominance.

He was also delighted with the performance of Will Hopoate, who was also on the scoresheet.

“I thought Louie (McCarthy-Scarsbrook) and Iggy (Paasi) came off the bench and had a massive impact for us. Those two tries that Louie scored were really big effort plays and he got the rewards for it which was great to see,” he said.

“Will (Hopoate) has had a terrible year with injury and he’s played out of position, but he’s just a footy player. Whenever he’s played at fullback he’s played with class and showcased that again today,” he added.

Despite a big win and all but sewing up a top-of-the-table finish, Woolf was already turning his attention to Hull KR next week.

“We’ve had a good win there, but we need to make sure we don’t fall in love with ourselves and focus on a big game against Hull KR next week on a short turnaround,” he said.

Teams

Hull FC: Walker, McIntosh, Connor, Vulikijapan, Wynne, Smith, Gale, Taylor, Houghton, Evans, Lane, Longstaff, Fash.

Subs: Satea, Lovodua, Johnstone, LaIdlaw.

Tries: Walker (1). Conversions: Gale (1/1).

Saints: Hopoate, Makinson, Hurrell, Mata’utia, Bennison, Davies, Lomax,  Walmsley, Roby, Lees, Bell, Batchelor, Knowles. Subs: Lussick, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Wingfield, Passi,

Tries: Hopoate (16), Makinson (30 and 51),LMS ( 33 and 39), Hurrell ( 38 and 46), Davies (43 and 78), Mata’utia (59), Lussick (72).

Goals: Makinson (8/11).

Half-time: 6-26. Full-time: 6-60.

Attendance: 10,097.