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Despite home advantage, the Leeds Rhinos were given a four-point start on the handicap coupon as they took on the reigning Champions St Helens at Headingley Stadium in the sole Friday evening game in Super League XXIX.

Saints already had second place and knew that a win in excess of twenty-two points would see them above arch-rivals Wigan Warriors into top spot, the Rhinos knew that a win would lift them to second spot in the table overnight.

Saints were without the suspended Mark Percival after last week’s sending off and lost Tommy Makinson in the warm-up while Leeds had ex-Saint James Bentley back in their side after his suspension. This was the first of two encounters between the two sides in two weeks.

A minute’s silence was impeccably observed by both sets of supporters in memory of Lewis Jones, Leeds legend, who passed away last week at the age of ninety-two.

The first chance came on seven minutes when Harry Newman was miraculously stopped just centimetres short of the Saints line after a sensational break after a great Lewis Dodd tackle. But two minutes later Luis Roberts span out of a tackle after taking a looping Brodie Croft pass to force the ball onto the ground. Rhyse Martin added the touchline conversion as Leeds early domination was rewarded.

The Rhinos were dominating play but steadfast defence from Saints was frustrating Leeds and the scoreline but a penalty on twenty-three after Jonny Lomax stole the ball in a two-man tackle allowed Martin a thirty-metre penalty to extend the lead by two.

On thirty-five Saints got themselves right back into the game when the Leeds defence failed to deal with a towering Lewis Dodd kick, the ball hitting the jumping players and ending up in the hands of Waqa Blake to ground. Lomax converted brilliantly from the left touchline, the margin back to just two points with five minutes of the half remaining.

Saints started the second half as they had finished the first, on the attack deep in Leeds half and on fifty-six the Saints took the lead with Jon Bennison going over down the right wing with a man overlap after Roberts had earlier put his side on the defensive foot after knocking on in the tackle. Lomax converted in off the far upright for a 12-8 lead going into the last twenty minutes.

Within a minute Moses Mbye scooted from dummy half to dive in under the sticks as the Rhinos defence opened. Lomax added the conversion to take the Saints lead to ten points.

It was an opening thirty minutes out of the top drawer from the Rhinos who blitzed the Saints but could only boast eight points for all their efforts. Saints bided their time and once their opportunities started to open up, they grasped them with both hands to score eighteen unanswered points to take the win and move level with Wigan on points at the top of the table.

Leeds Rhinos: Miller, Roberts (T), Newman, Martin (2G), Handley, Croft, Frawley, Oledzki, Ackers, Sangare, McDonnell, Bentley, Smith.  Subs: Edgell, Goudemand, Sangare, O’Connor. 18th Man: Donaldson.

St Helens: Welsby, Whitley, Hurrell, Blake (T), Bennison (T), Lomax (3G), Dodd, Walmsley, Clark, Lees, Batchelor, Mata’utia, Knowles. Subs: Delaney, Mbye (T), Bell, Wingfield. 18th Man: Davies. 

Half-Time: 8-6.

Full-Time: 8-18.

Score Progression: 4-0, 6-0, 8-0, 8-4, 8-6 : HT: 8-10, 8-12, 8-16, 8-18 :FT.

Lead Exchanges: Leeds – St Helens.

Referee: Jack Smith.

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Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Fri 15th Mar 2024 9:45 PM | Views : 3873 | Replies : 0 | BACK TO STORIES