Top were taking on second in the final Rivals round game in front of a full house at the Totally Wicked Stadium as the Champions St Helens took on one of the major challengers to their crowd, the arch enemy, Wigan Warriors.
Whoever picked up the two points today would be two points clear at the top of the league ahead of Easter Monday´s clashes but Wigan would have to do it without Zak Hardaker who was dropped, for disciplinary reasons, by coach Peet while Saints were without the injured Will Hopoate.
Kristian Woolf knew that a win this afternoon would be a big boost for St Helens but if Wigan could pick up the points in the oppositions lair, then they would be flying high.
Inside the first minute Jake Bibby broke to ten from the Saints line but despite having options both sides, his pass to the supporting Liam Farrell hit the second rower’s knees and went to ground, a gilt-edged chance spurned.
On seven minutes Konrad Hurrell lost possession in the act of scoring, the ball slipping from his grasp. The sides had both squandered opportunities and remained scoreless.
Bateman appeared to be the provider of the first try of the game when he gifted the ball to Joe Batchelor who went in under the sticks, but the video referee spotted a knock on in the interception.
Finally, with twenty minutes on the clock, Jai Field broke the Saints line and ran the angle for a forty metre try, diving over in the right corner under the tackle of Jack Welsby. Field attempted the goal kick but flashed the ball across the face of the posts.
Back-to-back set restarts gifted Saints position on twenty-three and allowed Hurrell to feed Tommy Makinson to score a spectacular try as he dived in at the corner flag. The Saints winger had made his own conversion difficult and was wide of the left upright to leave the sides tied together.
On thirty-three an expansive try from Jonny Lomax saw Saints hit the front for the first time after a Makinson break down the wing to the Wigan twenty before he offloaded inside to the supporting scrum half. Makinson added the conversion for 10-4.
After a Tommy Leuluai tackle without the ball on Agnatius Paasi under the sticks, Makinson added the penalty goal for 12-4 at the break.
The second half was seven minutes old when Batchelor took a miraculous offload from Mark Percival and muscle his way over the line to ground. Makinson was unable to add the conversion, the home side twelve points ahead.
A set restart and then a penalty gave Makinson another penalty goal to extend the lead to fourteen points.
The game got spicy on fifty-six after a Sam Powell crusher tackle on Jon Bennison which saw the Wigan man shown a yellow card, and possibly lucky that referee Moore was so lenient.
Percival scored a four pointer on sixty-four minutes after picking up a ball which had been flapped at by Miski to juggle the ball and take one step to ground. Makinson was unable to add the extras from wide, but it was game over.
Miski went close on seventy-one, but the video referee agreed with the on field official that there was a foot in touch before the ball was grounded. Wigan had opportunities but couldn't reduce the arrears and went down 4-22.
A typical derby match with no quarter asked or given and which will result in long queues at the treatment rooms over the weekend to rush players back to fitness for Monday. After a closely fought opening half hour it was the Saints who dug the deepest and showed themselves to be the best side on the day to go two points clear at the top of the table. Wigan drop below the Dragons to third spot on points difference as they contemplate a game against the Giants on Monday.
St Helens: Welsby, Makinson (T, 3G), Hurrell, Percival (T), Bennison, Lomax (T), Dodd, Walmsley, Roby, Lees, Batchelor (T), Bell, Knowles. Subs: Lussick, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Paasi, Wingfield.
Hull FC: Field (T), Miski, Bateman, Bibby, French, Cust, Leuluai, Singleton, Powell (SB on 56), Byrne, Isa, Farrell, Smithies. Subs: Mago, Partington, Havard, Shorrocks.
Score Progression: 0-4, 4-4, 8-4, 10-4, 12-4 : HT : 16-4, 18-4, (SB), 22-4 : FT.
Referee: Liam Moore.