Harlequins 0 St Helens 54: Pryce is right as Saints climb to the top over broken Quins

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The Independent Online

Saints usurped Leeds at the top of Super League for the first time this season, largely thanks to a first-half masterclass from Leon Pryce. The England stand-off set up two tries and scored another in the first half-hour as his side went on to exceed the 32-point winning margin they needed to go above the Rhinos comfortably.

"We never really looked at the table, but it's good to be there," Daniel Anderson, Saints' coach, said. "Leon inspired us. In the first half he couldn't be tackled. We scored some exceptional tries today – I was gobsmacked myself."

A Harlequins team with young British players firmly in the majority had a couple of early chances before their inability to cope with Pryce found them out.

He had already made one break that should have brought a try before he split the defence to set up the one that Willie Talau scored from Paul Sculthorpe's pass after 10 minutes. Four minutes later, Pryce romped clear again and this time James Roby was in support to capitalise.

Sean Long added the goal and then provided the pass from which Pryce scored a scintillating try of his own, completely fooling the Quins defence with his sidestep and sleight of hand.

Pryce played only a minor role in the fourth Saints try, Paul Wellens slipping the ball out of a tackle and Paul Clough finding the angle to the tryline.

Quins were defiant at the start of the second half, with Tony Clubb stopped inches short of the line. They got scant reward as Saints went up the other end for Ade Gardner to score.

Lamont Bryan's fumble gave Saints the possession from which Jon Wilkin's strength brought them the try that took them to the top of the table and the effervescent Kyle Eastmond wriggled through for Saints' seventh. Only the bravest of tackles by Rikki Sheriffe denied Maure Fa'asavalu, but some dazzling ball-handling ended with Francis Meli going over before Roby found a big gap for his second. It was Pryce's pass that sent James Graham over to complete Saints' successive 13th win.

The outgunned Quins fielded only four overseas players, but had further problems when one of them, Scott Hill, suffered a recurrence of a neck injury. Their coach, Brian McDermott, said: "The scoreline makes it look like we rolled over but we did not. Saints were just white hot."

Harlequins: Sheriffe; Bryan, Purdham, Sharp, O'Callaghan; Hill, Rinaldi; Ward, Randall, Haggerty, Clubb, Worrincy, Paul. Substitutes used: Heckenberg, Tootill, Grayshon, McCarthy-Scarsbrook.

St Helens: Wellens; Gardner, Gidley, Talau, Meli; Pryce, Long; Graham, Cunningham, Hargreaves, Sculthorpe, Wilkin, Roby. Substitutes used: Fa'asavalu, Clough, Eastmond, Thompson.

Referee: B Thaler (Wakefield).