After losing out to a golden point in their opening match against the Catalans Dragons, Hull KR had the unenviable task of a second round home game against St Helens, in St Helens, as the round one league leaders looked to extend their lead at the top of the table.
Saints were massive favourites with the bookies, KR being given a twenty-point start on the coupon, but stranger things than a Robins win have happened, especially with two rusty sides playing in early season.
Saints only leaked a single try against Salford last time out and KR arrived knowing that they would need to be on top form to take the points.
Regan Grace took just under three minutes to open the scoring for the Champions as he took a difficult ball over his head on the wing, did well to avoid going into touch, and then weave between two tacklers to get the ball on the ground. Tommy Makinson made no mistake from the touchline for a 6-0 lead.
On seven, Jack Welsby benefitted from a Theo Fages break and offload to dive over from five metres for a goal-hangers try. Makinson missed a simple kick but at 10-0, it was already looking ominous for the Robins.
KR enjoyed a good period of possession and position and did very well to steady the ship after an awful start to the game. The Robins gave as good as they got and Saints realised that they were in a game, relieved that they’d run a 10-0 lead while KR were still on the bus.
When KR were adjudged offside by referee Hicks, Makinson kicked the penalty goal on forty-five to take the lead out to two converted tries.
On fifty-five a Theo Fages drop goal gave Saints a 13-0 lead but with twenty-five left on the clock it was pressure relieving but not game over.
On sixty-one George Lawler was sin-binned for a professional foul on his own line and three plays into the resulting six Alex Walmsley offloaded backwards and despite the ball going to ground Aaron Smith picked up the ball and made it to the line to ground the ball despite the best attentions of Jordan Abdull. Makinson added the conversion for 19-0, the game now looking beyond the Robins.
Grace got his second on seventy after taking a delightful pass from Welsby to walk over the line in acres of space wide left. Makinson converted with aplomb from wide for 25-0.
Saints were never really in any trouble from the shrill of referee Hicks’ first whistle. KR had their moments, particularly a good spell towards the end of the first half, but St Helens weathered the storm and came back stronger to seal the points and return to the top of the table. They really are looking formidable again.
Hull KR: Quinlan, Hall, Kenny-Dowall, Minikin, Crooks, Lewis, Abdull, King, Litten, Sims, Linnett, Hadley, Lawler (SB on 61). Subs: Parcell, Minchella, Storton, Mustapha.
St Helens: Welsby (T), Makinson (4G), Naiqama, Simm, Grace (2T), Lomax, Fages (DG), Walmsley, Roby, Lees, Thompson, Bentley, Mata’utia. Subs: McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Amor, Smith (T), Batchelor.
Referee: Rob Hicks.
Score Progression: 0-4, 0-6, 0-10 : HT : 0-12, 0-13, 0-17, 0-19, 0-23, 0-25 : FT.