Betfred Super League: Saints Go Marching In On Leeds Rhinos

The reigning Betfred Super League champions dominate at the Totally Wicked Stadium
22:03, 23 Jun 2022

St Helens once again underlined their credentials as both reigning champions and league leaders with a comprehensive 42-12 victory over Leeds Rhinos at the Totally Wicked Stadium. The visitors came into this looking to bolster their challenge for a play-off place, but will need to head back to the drawing board after this performance.

The league leaders got off to a flyer, piling on the pressure. Alex Walmsley battled through Leeds’ defence before playing in Matty Lees, who went close to the try-line. It wouldn’t be long before Saints were on the scoreboard, when the Hurrellicane swept through the Totally Wicked Stadium. Konrad Hurrell got outside wide on the right and just about slid over the line. Tommy Makinson converted for his 40th goal of the season.

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Walmsley was next over the line, after a period of Rhinos pressure came to naught. The prop latched onto a quality lay-off from Morgan Knowles to score. Makinson had a simple job on the conversion.

Just when a rout looked on the cards, Rhinos fired back. Harry Newman put the afterburners on to burst through the lines and complete a magnificent try. Rhyse Martin converted to give The Loiners a foothold.

Rhinos looked like seizing the momentum when Sam Walters had a try given on the field. The video referee ruled the 21-year-old had knocked on. This would prove to be a turning point in the match, as Regan Grace scored a try for Saints just a minute later. Grace had his own nervous wait for the video referee to adjudicate, but despite appearing to lose control of possession as he put the ball down, the try was given. A true sliding doors moment in this Betfred Super League collision.

The second half saw Hurrell strike again, starting the period with the Red V on the front foot. The Rhinos defence argued there was an obstruction to the ball hitting the floor, but Hurrell’s second try of the night against his former club was allowed to stand. Makinson’s conversion went narrowly wide.

A long kick from Blake Austin found Ash Handley, who smartly tapped back for Martin to claim. Martin found Bodene Thompson for the try, before converting to give Leeds a lifeline. It was swiftly snuffed out though, as Agnatius Paasi notched a try at the other end almost immediately. Makinson scored a straightforward conversion and once again Saints were 14 points to the good.

The wind left Leeds’ sails at that point, and Joe Batchelor pounced to notch his third try of the season. Jonny Lomax wrong-footed the Rhinos defence with a quick step before passing off to the second-row from Wakefield to score. Makinson hit the target again to give the champions a 20 point lead.

Dan Norman added insult to injury in what was swiftly turning into a decimation, notching a fourth try of the season in all competitions. Makinson failed to convert, but by this point it was academic. There was no coming back from this scoreline for Leeds.

Rhinos’ frustrations boiled over when Zane Tetevano was sent off for a horrible challenge on Hurrell. The incident sparked a brief ruckus between the two sides, before order was restored. Tensions still simmered though, as James Bentley was sent to the sin bin for petulantly knocking the ball out of Walmsley’s hands during a restart. 

Walmsley was hardly deterred by this brief run-in, as he was soon powering through a crowd of Rhinos defenders to score another try. Makinson made it five from eight in conversions from the night, giving his side a 30-point lead. 

The game may have ended with a fair amount of acrimony, but that should not detract from another brilliant night for this Saints side. Every period of Leeds rejuvenation was powerfully and decisively curtailed by a St Helens team that just never looked like losing. Bad news for the rest of the Betfred Super League.

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