As if there wasn’t enough to play for in a Saints – Leeds game, there was added incentive for both sides as they knew that a win would help them achieve one of their immediate goals, Saints knowing that a win would guarantee them runners up spot, and the Rhinos in the full knowledge that win would guarantee their inclusion in the play-offs.
Saints had Joe Batchelor in the starting line-up for the injured Leeds bound James Bentley, meanwhile the Rhinos were without James Donaldson who withdrew today through illness and Corey Johnson was named on the bench for his first game since September 2019.
Saints were the bookies favourites for the win with the Rhinos being given a twelve-point start on the coupon.
After Leeds gifted the Saints possession inside their own half, it was an open invite for the opening try which the home side gladly accepted with soft hands from Lachlan Coote into the hands of Regan Grace who used his upper body in the tackle to ground. Coote added the conversion for a predictable 6-0 lead.
On sixteen Jack Welsby wriggled free of three Leeds tacklers to go in from fifteen metres out for a terrific solo try. Coote couldn’t add the goal but at 10-0 the memories of last weeks single point loss were extinguished.
Just before the twenty minutes mark Morgan Knowles barged his way over the line after a break by Alex Walmsley despite four Leeds tacklers putting up a weak defence. Coote goaled his third conversion attempt for a 16-0 lead.
Saints scored again on the kick-off return, this time it was Tommy Makinson who was on hand to take the Walmsley pass and go forty metres to score under the sticks and give Coote his third conversion of the night. The Rhinos had no answer.
It was all one-way traffic when in thirty-one the Saints kept the ball alive before it found its way into the hands of Alex Walmsley to crash over from five metres out. The Coote conversion made it 28-0, the Rhinos already well beaten.
Four minutes before the interval a scoot from Brad Dwyer opened the Rhinos account and prevented a first half nilling. Grace had knocked on a high kick and with six tackles close to the line Leeds worked the ball in with the hooker finding his way over from acting half back. Rhyse Martin added the conversion to leave the Rhinos 28-6 down at the interval.
Four after the restart Sione Mata’utia collected a Lewis Dodd grubber kick on the Leeds line to ground for the sixth Saints try of the game. Coote added the conversion and normal service was resumed.
After good Leeds pressure, and even better Saints defence, it was the home side who extended their lead on seventy-three when Knowles took a Welsby pass to shrug off the Leeds tacklers and score. Coote converted for 40-6 with just over five minutes remaining.
This was as one-sided affair as you’ll see which resulted in St Helens guaranteeing themselves second spot on the ladder, and a week off in the play-offs, against a Leeds side who were a distant second best. This was the ideal way for the Champions to bounce back after last weeks disappointment and the perfect way to edge closer to the play-off to secure the chance of revenge against the Dragons at Old Trafford in under a month’s time. The Rhinos will have to await their last game of the regular season against Hull KR to see whether they make the play-offs.
St Helens: Coote (6G), Makinson (T), Naiqama, Percival, Grace (T), Welsby (T), Dodd, Walmsley (T), Roby, Lees, Mata’utia (T), Batchelor, Knowles (2T). Subs: Amor, Thompson, Smith, Wingfield.
Leeds Rhinos: Broadbent, Briscoe L, Newman, Briscoe T, Handley, Leeming, Myler, Holdroyd, Dwyer (G), Prior, Walters, Martin (T), O’Connor. Subs: Smith C, Sutcliffe A, Thompson B, Johnson.
Referee: Chris Kendall.
Score Progression: 4-0, 6-0, 10-0, 14-0, 16-0, 20-0, 22-0, 26-0, 28-0, 28-4, 28-6 : HT : 32-6, 34-6, 38-6, 40-6 : FT.