Leeds, occasionally brilliant but too often brittle, were beaten at thebasics by a resurgent St Helens team. Three tries in the last 15 minutes and an 18-point haul from the young wing Jamie Foster made the difference on the scoreboard. The key, though, was the patience that Saints showed and Leeds lacked.
Having suspended the Bath-bound Kyle Eastmond in midweek, Saints opted to move the versatile Jonny Lomax into the scrum-half role. Lomax contributed to a team effort that was far sharper than the limp display Saints put in against Harlequins last week.
Points were hard to come by in the first half, with both sides having players held up over the line. The closest thing to a try, however, came when Zak Hardaker thought he had scored on his Leeds debut – Foster had done just enough to force one of the wing's feet on to the touchline. The same pair featured in an absorbing game's long-awaited first try, Saints benefiting from a generous knock-on interpretation to give them a scrum feed and Foster getting on the outside of Hardaker. Foster kicked the conversion.
Leeds squared it up by half-time. They persisted in throwing the ball around and they finally found a way through, Carl Ablett handling particularly well to send Ryan Hall in at the corner.
Leeds then took the lead with a try that should never have been allowed, but under the arcane rules governing the use of the video referee, said official was not allowed to alert the referee, Richard Silverwood, to Kallum Watkins' blatant forward pass that put Hardaker in.
Saints hit back with a Michael Shenton try from a Lee Gaskell kick, but the see-saw rhythm of the match continued with Paul McShane's close-range effort for the Rhinos.
It was Saints who lasted the breathless pace the better, however, with Francis Meli getting over, Paul Wellens scoring from a pass by the excellent Gaskell and Foster being credited with his second try two minutes from the end of the match, although it looked suspiciously tight to the sideline.
"We kept control of the ball, we stayed patient and we kept at it," said Saints' coach, Royce Simmons, who was full of praise for the way Lomax stepped into Eastmond's boots after only two training sessions in the role.
"He's done really, really well," he said. "He's a young man with a great future in the game."
The point about patience was not lost on Leeds's Brian McDermott, after seeing his side lose too much possession by trying to force the miracle pass. "We were trying for the 11 out of 10 pass and we didn't need them," he said.
Leeds Webb; Hardaker, Watkins, Senior, Hall; Sinfield, Burrow; Jones-Buchanan, Buderus, Kirke, Hauraki, Lauitiiti, Ablett. Substitutes used: Cross, Clarkson, Burgess, McShane.
St Helens Wellens; Gardner, Shenton, Meli, Foster; Gaskell, Lomax; Perry, Roby, Graham, Clough, Flannery, Puletua. Substitutes used: Moore, Ashurst, Wheeler, Magennis.
Referee R Silverwood (Mirfield).Reuse content