Saints stunned as Naughton hat-trick powers Hull victory

Curtis Naughton bagged a hat-trick of tries as Hull overturned an 18-6 half-time deficit to triumph against shell-shocked 
St Helens.

Hull FC's Curtis Naughton.

Saints had lost their Super 8s opener against Catalans Dragons last week but tries from Luke Thompson, Adam Swift and James Roby, all converted by Luke Walsh, helped them to a comfortable lead, with the Black and Whites’ only score in the first half coming through Naughton’s try.

But the visitors came roaring back in a five-try second-half, with Tom Lineham, Joe Westerman and Jamie Shaul all crossing before Naughton’s late brace ensured Mark Percival’s late score was mere consolation for Saints, who have now lost three in a row.

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Hull, who won 28-20 at Langtree Park on Easter Monday, saw Iafeta Paleaaesina make a late withdrawal in the warm up. He joined Gareth Ellis and Leon Pryce on the injured list although Fetuli Talanoa returned in the centre.

Hull made the livelier start with only a forward pass from Talanoa to Naughton preventing an early try, while Saints full-back Adam Quinlan was then forced into rearguard action to prevent Marc Sneyd scoring from a Lineham kick. Determined defence kept out Naughton after Mark Minichiello robbed Matty Fleming of possession.

The hosts did manage to cross the line midway through the first half but Mark Flanagan’s touchdown was disallowed for a forward pass from Roby.

The disappointment turned to elation, however, after 22 minutes when Flanagan smuggled a pass out to Thompson, who powered over for only his third try of the season, but Hull hit back when Sneyd intercepted Travis Burns’s pass and raced 80 metres before sending Naughton over.

Sneyd converted to level the scores 6-6 before Saints regained the lead with slick handling putting Swift over in the corner and things got worse for Hull when Roby shot clear from dummy-half.

Hull grabbed the try they needed almost straight from the restart with Lineham taking Jordan Rankln’s long pass to cross in the corner after Naughton had an effort controversially disallowed.

A Roby break almost brought a try for Joe Greenwood but Hull’s cover defence was up to the task and then quick thinking by Quinlan prevented Shaul following up his own kick to score with Hull turning in a determined display.

Hull cut the gap to two points after 53 minutes when Westerman ploughed through poor defence for a converted try and they went ahead for the first time with Shaul racing onto a Sneyd kick.

Naughton notched his second try nine minutes from time when Fleming fumbled a kick on his own line to stretch the lead to 26-18 and the winger then completed his treble after pouncing on a poor Flanagan kick, meaning Saints centre Percival’s late try counted for little.

St Helens: Quinlan, Fleming, Percival, Jones, Swift, Burns, Walsh, Walmsley, Roby, Savelio, Flanagan, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Thompson. Substitutes: Turner, Masoe, Richards, Greenwood.

Hull FC: Shaul, Naughton, Talanoa, Sa, Lineham, Abdull, Sneyd, Paea, Houghton, Watts, Minichiello, Hadley, Westerman. Substitutes: Paleaaesina, Thompson, Fash, Rankin.

Referee: J Child (RFL).