Leeds Rhinos 32 St Helens 12 match report: Zak Hardaker’s double sees off Saints

Five tries and six successful kicks from captain Sinfield take Leeds through to the Challenge Cup quarter-finals in style

Headingley Carnegie Stadium

Leeds, who have not won the Challenge Cup this millennium, became the first side into the quarter-finals of this year’s competition with a Wembley-class performance at Headingley.

St Helens had a perfect record this year until little more than a week ago. They have now lost three on the trot.

They owed this latest defeat not just to the two first-half tries from Zak Hardaker that put them on the back foot and kept them there, but also to the all-round excellence of the Rhinos’ display.

 “We had to do it tough at times,” said their captain, Kevin Sinfield. “We had some nervous moments and Saints had a real dig.”

Saints also had a tendency to dig themselves into a few holes. They began with what has become an unfortunate trademark since they started to show some vulnerability this season – knocking on with their first touch of the match.

This time it was the turn of their young prop, Alex Walmsley, to do so. After the pressure had been extended by a contentious call to force them to drop out from under their posts, the delayed punishment arrived in the shape of the first try of the match. From the scrum, Hardaker roared into the line and touched down to give Sinfield an easy conversion.

With both sides highly enterprising, if a little error-prone, prone, it was the 13th minute before Saints struck back, Chris Percival finding a gap in the centres and the aptly named Adam Swift supporting to score. Leeds’ Danny McGuire had one rightly disallowed for stealing the ball after the tackle, but a concern for Saints was that his opposite number, Luke Walsh, appeared to aggravate an elbow injury that was already heavily strapped. He stayed on, but not at full efficiency.

Another feature of the game was the amount of work Leeds’ England wingman, Ryan Hall, got through. The days of waiting on your wing to be invited into the game are well and truly over, and it was no surprise when Hall figured heavily in the try that put the Rhinos ahead and kept them there, his muscular run and offload setting up Hardaker’s second before half-time.

Hardaker’s centre partner, Joel Moon, was another important contributor, drawing the penalty from which Sinfield stretched his side’s lead and then planting the ball down for a try after an incisive attack by Rob Burrow, who finished the game on the bench with his arm in a sling after suffering what was later diagnosed as a broken collarbone.

A 14-point lead against any other side would be a case of a job done, but Saints did indeed hint at one of their famous fightbacks when Jonny Lomax’s cleverly delayed short pass put Josh Jones through a rare hole in the Leeds defence.

A 40/20 kick from Walsh rang alarm bells, but it came to nothing when Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook knocked on.

“We had some really good opportunities, but we weren’t quite good enough to bridge the gap,” said the St Helens coach, Nathan Brown.

Leeds had something in reserve, had they needed it. Danny McGuire, a serial tormenter of Saints in big matches, scored by following up Kallum Watkins’s lovely break and then the old warhorse, Jamie Peacock, completed what ultimately looked a comfortable scoreline from close range.

So is this the year when a generation of Leeds players fill the gap in their trophy cabinets?

“We’ll be giving it our best shot this year,” said Sinfield, “like we do every year.”

Line-ups:

Leeds: Hardaker; Briscoe, Watkins, Moon, Hall; Sinfield, McGuire; Leuluai, Burrow, Peacock, Achurch, Delaney, Ablett. Substitutes used: Kirke, Clarkson, Sutcliffe, Singleton.

St Helens: Lomax; Makinson, Turner, Percival, Swift; Wilkin, Mason; Amor, Roby, Walmsley, Soliola, McCarthy- Scarsbrook, Jones. Substitutes used: Wellens, Mascoe, Richards, Greenwood.

Referee: Richard Silverwood.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee