14th September 2018, 22:11 | super_league
St Helens shrugged off their late-season wobble to lift the League Leaders’ Shield for the sixth time in the Betfred Super League era.
England centre Mark Percival and exciting winger Regan Grace scored two tries apiece as Saints overcame injury-hit Hull FC 38-12 at the Totally Wicked Stadium.
Justin Holbrook’s men have led the table all season but they missed a chance to secure the shield a fortnight ago as Wigan Warriors condemned them to a second successive home defeat, which came on the heels of their shock Ladbrokes Challenge Cup semi-final exit to eventual winners Catalans Dragons.
However, they made no mistake this time as they cruised to a fourth win of the season over the Black and Whites, who have now lost their last nine matches.
Morgan Knowles and Luke Thompson also crossed for the home side as Danny Richardson kicked seven goals, with tries from Jordan Lane and Brad Fash briefly bringing Hull back to 12-12 before the Saints ran ahead comfortable winners.
Saints head coach Justin Holbrook: "It was a good performance from us tonight,” Holbrook said. “It’s a good achievement to be rewarded as the most consistent team over the 30 rounds and I’m proud of the boys.
"As we all know, it’s Old Trafford that counts but I don’t want to downplay this. The whole season is built on the end of the year but it’s a nice thing to collect on the way through and great recognition for the club.
"Everybody who was eligible got to play tonight. It was great for the young boys to get a taste and play well.
"I thought James Bentley was fantastic. He’s tried hard all year for Sheffield and really stood up and handled it well, playing 80 minutes in the back row. He did a good job and I’m happy for him."
Hull head coach Lee Radford said: "The rot has set in and we’ll need pre-season to remind some of these blokes of the players they can be,” Radford said.
"I was disappointed with some of the attempted efforts for the tries conceded. Two in the first half were not acceptable.
"I thought Masi Matongo was the second best player on the field behind (Luke) Thompson. I thought his efforts were phenomenal.
"We’ve just got to get some of that want and desire and response to adversity to rub off on to other blokes. He was pretty inspirational for us tonight."