Long and Cunningham pull Leeds to pieces

St Helens 56 Leeds Rhinos 10
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The Independent Online

Saints were irresistible as they swept aside a Leeds team previously unbeaten in Super League this season with contemptuous ease at Knowsley Road last night.

Saints were irresistible as they swept aside a Leeds team previously unbeaten in Super League this season with contemptuous ease at Knowsley Road last night.

The Rhinos beat St Helens four times last year, but their impressive start this season was put firmly into context as players like Kieron Cunningham and Paul Sculthorpe proved too good for them.

Saints, who have already beaten Leeds in the Challenge Cup, seemed determined to do similar damage in the league. The rot began when Marcus Bai fumbled Sean Long's kick and, from the scrum, Saints moved the ball to the left where Willie Talau supplied Ade Gardner to score in the corner.

Cunningham then broke down the middle to set up the second try, for Lee Gilmour, after only eight minutes. Saints piled on the agony for Leeds with a third try midway through the half, Sculthorpe and Martin Gleeson doing the approach work for Jason Hooper.

Wayne McDonald conceded a penalty for a high tackle on Mark Edmondson and Saints increased the punishment by going straight to the other end for Cunningham and Long to set up Sculthorpe. Hooper got his second before half-time and, with Long kicking four goals, Saints were already out of sight to a Leeds side rapidly losing their shape and discipline.

Long kept the scoreboard ticking with two penalties early in the second half, before Darren Albert scored the most spectacular of all their tries, picking up Kevin Sinfield's kick and racing 80 yards. Talau scored from Gleeson's pass straight from a scrum before Leeds got some temporary relief through Rob Burrow's run to score from dummy half.

Chris Feather got a further consolation for the outclassed Rhinos, but Edmondson rounded it off for Saints when he flicked up a loose ball to run away for their ninth try.

St Helens: Wellens; Gardner, Gleeson, Talau, Albert; Hooper, Long; Fozzard, Cunningham, Mason, Joynt, Gilmour, Sculthorpe. Substitutes used: Edmondson, Bibey, Fa'asavalu, Hardman.

Leeds: Mathers; Cummins, Walker, Senior, Bai; McGuire, Dunemann; Feather, Burrow, McDermott, Furner, McKenna, Sinfield. Substitutes used: Bailey, Adamson, Poaching, McDonald.

Referee: R Smith (Castleford).

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