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The only unbeaten side in Super League, St Helens, were up against the defending Champions, the Leeds Rhinos, in what was arguably the game of round six.

Saints made just one change and had Jon Wilkin back in the starting line-up with McCarthy-Scarsbrook dropping to the bench to replace the injured Alex Walmsley. Leeds promoted Anthony Mullally from the bench in for Mitch Garbutt (knee), with Cameron Smith and Mikolaj Oledzki in the bench.

The home side were strong favourites with the bookies and the pundits, but Justin Holbrook acknowledged during the week that this would be their sternest test of the season so far. Leeds were still without a number of their stars as they looked to continue their 2018 campaign.

Kyle Amor and Ash Golding both received early treatment for injuries, the Leeds man leaving the field for a concussion test. After good Leeds pressure Anthony Mullally opened the scoring when he wriggled out of a gang of four Saints tacklers to drop over the line. Kallum Watkins added the extras for a 6-0 lead to the visitors.

Saints were back in the game on sixteen when Ben Barba benefitted from a loose Leeds pass when he took the ball floating into the centres and ran over the top of Richie Myler to ground. Danny Richardson made a nonesense of the angle to slot over the conversion.

Myler put a clearing kick out on the full on twenty-one which piled the pressure back on Leeds. On the next set Tommy Makinson took a Richardson high ball and dropped over the line but lost the ball in the act of scoring. The Rhinos breathed a collective sigh of relief.

As the half wore on it was Saints in the ascendancy.

Leeds illegally stole the ball on their own ten metre line on twenty-seven and Richardson gave the Saints a two point lead. Two minutes later and sensational handling gave Saints their second try. A knock back from Adam Swift went through the hands of Richardson and Makinson before arriving back with Swift for him to ground. Richardson was unable to add the extras from the touchline.

Somewhat against the run of play, on thirty-five the Rhinos struck back through Richie Myler who found space to take a Tom Briscoe inside pass and go the remaining ten metres to score. Watkins added the conversion for 12-12 at the interval.

The first points of the second half came after Carl Ablett was penalised for an incorrect play the ball and Richardson edged his side ahead with the resulting penalty on fifty-four minutes. After giving away the penalty it was Ablett who earned one a few minutes later and Watkins opted to take the two to again level the scores on the hour mark.

Within a minute the Rhinos were in for a four pointer when Ash Handley was the first to react to a Myler kick over the top which confused the Saints defence. Watkins pulled his kick wide of the uprights.

On sixty-four Watkins left the field after picking up an injury in going close.

On the next play a Joel Moon grubber, after a Myler break, hit a Saints player and bounced into goal where Handley got a hand on the ball for his second try in five minutes. Myler took over the kicking duties but couldn’t convert. The Rhinos had dug deep and were now in a position of strength.

A superb length of the field try on seventy-one gave Ben Barba his second of the game after Regan Grace broke the Rhinos defensive line and went seventy metres before finding his full back in space to go over under the sticks. Richardson added the goal and the margin was back to just two points.

Zeb Taia knocked on a pass on the kick-off return and from the resulting scrum Matt Parcell pushed his way to the line and reached down to score the try. Myler added the conversion for an eight point lead with six minutes left on the clock.

Saints threw everything that they had at the Rhinos in the closing minutes but the Leeds defence held strong for an unexpected win.

This was a humdinger of a game where the Rhinos overcame the odds and home advantage to inflict the Saints first loss of the 2018 season and get themselves right back in the hunt for a top four place. Despite a host of injuries, including the loss of Golding and Watkins during the game, the visitors brought composure and patience to the game. Driven on by Myler, Moon and Parcell it was a famous victory for the Blue and Amber over a Saints side who showed little of their early season flair.

Saints: Barba (2T), Swift (T), Makinson, Percival, Grace, Lomax, Richardson (4G), Amor, Roby, Thompson, Taia, Peyroux, Wilkin.  Subs: Fages, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Douglas, Lees.

Rhinos: Golding, Briscoe, Watkins (3G), Handley (2T), Hall, Moon, Myler (T, G), Mullally (T), Parcell (T), Singleton, Jones-Buchanan, Ablett, Delaney.  Subs: Smith, Oledzki, Walker, Walters.

Referee: James Child.

Half-Time: 12-12.

Full-Time: 20-28.

Attendance: .



Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Fri 16th Mar 2018 9:49 PM | Views : 3219 | Replies : 0 | BACK TO STORIES
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