Jack Welsby claims hat-trick as St Helens ease past Hull
Stand-in winger Jack Welsby scored a hat-trick of tries as St Helens powered past Hull FC 34-16 at the Totally Wicked Stadium.
Moved from the centre to the wing to deputise for the injured Regan Grace, last season’s Grand Final winning hero Welsby produced three stylish finishes that Grace himself would have been proud of.
It was the perfect response from the reigning Betfred Super League Champions after they suffered their first defeat of the season last Saturday away at Catalans.
Jonny Lomax, making his 250th appearance for Saints, was in inspired form and his half-back partnership with Theo Fages posed Brett Hodgson’s men no end of problems, especially in the first half.
It was a well-timed Lomax pass that sent Welsby in at the corner for his first try after only two minutes. Lachlan Coote added the conversion.
Coote scored Saints’ second try just five minutes later after being set up by Fages though this time he couldn’t add the conversion.
Having been starved of possession for the opening 10 minutes, Hull FC who have only won one of their last 10 meetings with Saints, scored on their first raid inside the Saints half. Jake Connor floated a kick to the corner which sat up perfectly for former Saints winger Adam Swift and he touched down but Marc Sneyd was unable to convert.
The score proved to be only a minor setback for Kristian Woolf’s side who had two tries disallowed before Coote kicked a 30th minute penalty after Hull FC was caught offside in front of their own posts.
With five minutes of the half remaining, Welsby scored his second try after Fages and Lomax combined brilliantly on the left edge. There was no goal from Coote but Saints were worthy of their 22-4 interval lead.
Fages launched a high kick to the corner which Hull FC full-back Connor completely misjudged and Welsby collected to score the try which sealed his hat-trick. Coote added the conversion.
Hull FC claimed a second try on the hour mark when winger Mahe Fonua produced a powerful finish to score in the corner and Sneyd added the goal.
But Saints replied quickly when the impressive Knowles made a tremendous break through the middle which was supported by Lomax who in turn fed Joe Batchelor to complete a fine move. Coote’s goal made it 34-10.
Fonua snatched his second and Hull FC’s third try as the hooter sounded, going in at the corner. Sneyd added the conversion.