St Helens make title charge as Hull KR show signs of Challenge Cup hangover

Hull KR returned to Super League following their heart-breaking Challenge Cup Final defeat to Leigh Leopards but it was a tough ask for the Robins as they travelled to reigning champions St Helens.

Paul Wellens side had made up their game in hand the day after Rovers’ cup final loss and that win over Huddersfield took Saints into third, level on points with second place Wigan Warriors.

With Matty Lees’ two game suspension being upheld following Saints appeal it meant another make shift pack for St Helens after a season of injuries and suspensions for the Red Vee.

Morgan Knowles moved into prop alongside youngster George Delaney whilst James Bell’s return from suspension was timely.

As for Hull KR there was just one change from the side that lined up in the Challenge Cup Final and that was enforced following Elliot Minchella’s suspension, Jimmy Keinhorst stepping into the squad and Dean Hadley moving into the loose forward role.

The guest of honour at the match was former Rovers and Saints full back Lachlan Coote with the Scotland international having retired earlier in the season, and saying a final goodbye to the teams who he starred for in Super League before returning to Australia.

It was a cagey and penalty strewn first twenty minutes with both teams making errors in the opposition twenty, and that ultimately led to a scoreless first half an hour.

That was until Saints got a penalty following a high shot on young prop Delaney which prompted Mark Percival to take the two, something that was added to just minutes before the break when Sione Mata’utia capitalised on an error at the back to extend the score to 6-0.

Saints kicked on early in the second half with Tommy Makinson crossing over courtesy of an overlap to double the St Helens lead and that was compounded by a Moses Mbye try minutes later.

Mikey Lewis spilled the ball which allowed the hooker to pick up and race through to make it 18-0, putting the game firmly in the control of the Red Vee.

Tommy Makinson then added his second and Saints’ fourth of the night diving in at the corner to make the game 22-0 with 25 minutes to go, putting a real dent in Hull KR’s playoff hopes.

Rovers did hit back through Mikey Lewis with Brad Schneider adding a difficult kick to make it 24-6 but it was too late for Willie Peters’ slide, who following Salford’s heavy win over Huddersfield, slipped out of the playoffs and into seventh.

It wasn’t over from Saints though as they added another to compound KR’s misery with Ben Davies the beneficiary of clever play by Jonny Lomax and Lewis Dodd.

That saw the game finish 28-6 with Saints pushing on for a chance at second and Rovers dropping into seventh.