McGuire blitz blows away sorry Saints

Leeds 70 St Helens 0
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The Independent Online

Leeds inflicted terrible punishment on a demoralised St Helens last night with a 12 try rout, three of them enabling Danny McGuire to draw level with the Super League record for tries in a season.

Leeds inflicted terrible punishment on a demoralised St Helens last night with a 12 try rout, three of them enabling Danny McGuire to draw level with the Super League record for tries in a season.

McGuire's quick-fire hat-trick made it 28 so far, to match Saints' Paul Newlove in 1996 and, with eight matches to play, it is just a matter of time before this prodigiously talented player sets a new mark.

And he was only one of a host of Rhinos stars, including Marcus Bai, with a hat-trick of his own, and Keith Senior, who was irresistible all night.

Leeds' defence was just as good as their attack and this was the first time Saints have failed to score in the nine seasons of Super League.

It had already been a sorry week for them, with a heavy defeat at Hull, the temporary loss of Paul Sculthorpe with injury and the permanent loss of Martin Gleeson.

It did not take long for it to get worse last night. Right from Paul Wellens putting their kick-off straight out, they were under constant pressure, with Bai starting the try rush after 90 seconds.

Then it was the McGuire show with three sparkling tries in little more than eight minutes. For pace and finishing power there really is no one in the game to match him at the moment.

"I'm not the least bit disappointed by that," he said. "That was the best team performance I've been involved in. Everything we did came off.''

Leeds' ruthlessness and fluency yielded further first-half tries for Bai and Wayne McDonald, who also got them moving again after the break with his second.

The industrial Matt Diskin and Richard Mathers joined the procession before Bai completed his hat trick thanks to more wonderful handing from Senior. After Ali Lauiti'iti got over, Senior claimed a richly deserved try of his own with five minutes to play.

Saints only narrowly avoided being nilled at Hull last week; this time there was no escape and the Leeds coach, Tony Smith, admitted that he was more delighted with that figure than with the 70 points scored.

"It's the first time for Saints and it's a remarkable achievement against a team like them," he said. His side had responded in exactly the way he wanted after their surprising dropped point at London last week and now it is Saints that must pick themselves up from one of the lowest ebbs since Ian Millward took over as coach.

"It was the worst since I have been at the club," he said succinctly and it is not clear where any sudden improvement is coming from.

Leeds: Mathers; Cummins, Walker, Senior, Bai; Sinfield, McGuire; Ward, Diskin, Bailey, McKenna, Lauiti'iti, Poching. Substitutes used: Burrow, McDonald, Adamson, McDermott.

St Helens: Wellens; Gardner, Albert, Gilmour, Feaunati; Talau, Hooper; Fozzard, Cunningham, Mason, Edmondson, Fa'asavalu, Wilkin. Substitutes used: Roby, Bibey, Hardman, Bennett.

Referee: K Kirkpatrick (Warrington).

Results, table, Digest, page 61

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