St Helens And Hull KR Reach The Betfred Challenge Cup Semi Finals

The lowdown on an action-packed day in the Betfred Challenge Cup
16:19, 17 Jun 2023

St Helens did what St Helens do, dazzling once again in the latter stages of the Betfred Challenge Cup. Hull FC were worthy opponents, moreso than the 32-18 in this quarter final suggest. But Saints proved why they’re the third-most successful side in this competition’s history with an admirable performance.

Saints wasted little time making their presence felt. A tidy short ball from Jack Welsby followed by a neat Joe Batchelor gear change got the on the board early. The try was converted as the 13-time winners made the dream start.

There were some sobering moments as Mark Percival went down with a head injury. An illegal challenge saw the full weight of Brad Fash’s shoulder collide with the face of the Hull FC centre. Thankfully Percival was up and about after treatment but as he went off for head injury protocols, it was feared The Airlie Birds would miss his dynamism.

There was no shortage of dynamism when Hull notched a try out of thin air moments later. Tex Hoy found Josh Griffin to his right and he charged through unchallenged to score. The try was converted as the Black & Whites drew level.

Buoyed by the breakthrough, it wasn’t long before Andre Savileo put them ahead. Daniel McIntosh jumped highest for an aerial ball, getting enough on it to put it in the Frenchman’s path. Savileo had an easy job of it in the end, even if a consultation with the video official made it look like less of a formality than it really was.

This see-saw battle went into half time with appropriate parity as Konrad Hurrell scored just before the break. Welsby was the star man here, a high ball out wide catching the bruising Hurrell rampaging down the right flank. 12-12 at the half. 

But the action wasn’t over despite the hooter having sounded. Josh Griffin received a yellow followed by a red for a verbal altercation with the official. Suddenly a finely balanced game had seen the tables tipped without play even taking place.


Saints almost started the second half as well as they had the first. Jonny Lomax sent a fine kick towards Hurrell and Batchelor. While the latter made contact, he fumbled the connection and a clear chance went begging.

A bulldozing run from Curtis Sironen meant St Helens wouldn’t have to wait long to retake the lead. Strength and composure was all that was needed as he burst through an ill-prepared Hull defence. A conversion put six points between the sides as Paul Wellens’ men took charge. 

A colossal effort on the from Tee Ritson stretched the Hull defence to breaking point. While they were able to snuff out his efforts, Lewis Dodd was alert. Taking advantage of field position deep in the Hull half, he revived the attack and sauntered over the line. A classy try made possible by Ritson’s speed and energy. Joey Lussick made it a 12-point game from the conversion as the MKM Stadium fell silent.

The crowd woke up considerably when Jake Trueman rescued Hull hopes with 15 minutes to play. McIntosh seized upon an error to pick up the ball and a no-nonsense pass gave Trueman’s excellent support play the ending it deserved. Liam Sutcliffe had it all to do with the kick, the angle making it beyond tricky. But he put his side within six with an excellent take.

The home joy was shortlived as Jack Welsby put Hull FC back at arm’s length. Saints scored from the kick-off set, with a precise attack taking them a step closer to the semi finals. The kick was wayward, which was a sliver of consolation after a disheartening moment for the home side.

Any thought of a late burst was quelled by James Bell. A constant thorn in the Hull FC side, he got his well-deserved try with a pacy late run. A half without Griffin had left Hull legs looking weary and, not for the first time, Saints took advantage. The semi finals beckon for a team who knows this competition extremely well.


Earlier in the afternoon, Craven Park played host to another Betfred Challenge Cup quarter-final clash. Hull KR ran out 28-10 winners against Salford Red Devils. Rovers, who last lifted this trophy in 1980, took the lead through Ryan Hall. Catalans Dragons loanee Tanguy Zenon added to the scoring with a smooth one-two off Tom Opacic. From there they hardly let up, as Salford tried to claw their way back into the tie.

Kane Linnett added a third as a rout looked possible, with Rowan Milnes backing up each try with a conversion. Poor defence gave Salford a foothold, with Tim Lafai getting on the scoresheet. But the tide never quite turned and by the time Shaun Kenny-Dowall scored from a Milnes grubber this game was only going one way.

Dean Hadley touched down from another fine Milnes kick to put this one beyond all doubt. Salford showed belated signs of life when Joe Burgess crossed over and the try was converted. But it was a bridge too far with Hull KR walking out deserving victors.

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