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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
David Craven

Tony Smith hails Hull FC "desire" after stunning rout of champions St Helens

Delighted Tony Smith said “desire” was key as rampant Hull stunned champions St Helens to gain sweet revenge for their Challenge Cup exit.

Just five days after a 32-18 quarter-final defeat by Saints on the same ground, his side were utterly transformed. They’d been in the Cup tie at 12-12 before Josh Griffin’s half-time red card for allegedly calling referee Chris Kendall a “f****** cheat.” But Hull’s discipline - and everything else - was spot on tonight in an inspired display.

Smith freshened things up with six changes including bringing back Aussie scrum-half Jake Clifford after he’d missed the Cup game due to a head knock. Along with half-back partner Jake Trueman, he left the bewildered visitors scratching their heads as brilliant Hull finally beat Saints for the first time in SIX years ending a 16-match losing run. Built on an immense pack performance, it was their biggest win of the year and bolstered hopes of breaking into the play-off places.

Smith enthused: “We got beat here on Saturday so we needed to defend our patch and we did tonight. It’s not all about statistics. It’s about desire and we’re working hard for each other. I liked our energy. Anything can happen in a short turnaround - you never know what you’ll get - but we found the energy tonight. Saints were a bit off. Some of that was down to us.

“We showed determination right from the word go. Some fresh bodies helped and Jake Clifford being back. Our kicking game was good and I’m pretty happy with all of it. I’m pleased for the boys.”

Clifford scored the early opener, created another for Cameron Scott and slotted five goals. Carlos Tuimavave, Trueman, Chris Satae and the excellent Darnell McInotsh also crossed for the impressive hosts who led 22-0 at the break despite missing five regulars. Sorry Saints’ only response was a 43rd minute try from James Bell, improved by Jon Bennison.

Hull's Darnell McIntosh rounds off an epic win against St Helens (Mick Atkins/ProSports/REX/Shutterstock)

Paul Wellens left out Joey Lussick and benched captain James Roby. In a big surprise, England loose forward Morgan Knowles instead played hooker for the first time since 2018. But by the time Wellens called on legendary Roby in the 37th minute, his mistake-ridden side were already on the end of a hiding.

He admitted “wondering why” he’d left out the iconic player afterwards but added: “It was very unlike us. We dropped well below our standards. We got so many facets of that game so wrong: Hull were far the better team.”

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