The last time Saints lost six matches in a row, the mighty Mal Meninga had not long returned to Australia.
His less legendary successors looked certain to replicate that unwanted record when they trailed by 16-0 last night, but two tries and three goals from one of the brightest of their current crop, Tom Makinson, turned the game .
Fumbles by Makinson and Luke Thompson set up Kallum Watkins for the game’s first try. Still inside the first 10 minutes, Saints were opened up again, with Joel Moon’s nimble footwork putting him over. The visitors’ lack of confidence was obvious as they conceded stupid penalties; a quick pair gave up the ground for Rob Burrow to nip in.
There was hope for Saints when Louis McCarthy-Scarsbrook got over from clever work at dummy-half by Stuart Howarth on their first attack. A similar gap in Leeds’ defence allowed Jon Wilkin to put Sia Soliola through and for Makinson’s second conversion to make it a modest four-point margin.
Three minutes into the second half, that lead disappeared, Willie Manu and Mark Percival paving the way for Makinson. Then Zak Hardaker lost the ball trying to clear his own try-line and Anthony Laffranchi, picking up the pieces, put Saints ahead for the first time. Paul Wellens’ kick eluded Hardaker and Makinson arrived for his second try. Ryan Bailey brought the Rhinos back into it, but seven minutes from the end, Thompson clinched the victory.