McGuire cashes in as Saints whitewashed

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Leeds coach Tony Smith was refusing to get carried away by his side's 70-0 trouncing of Challenge Cup winners St Helens in their Super League match on Friday night.

The table-topping Rhinos ran in 12 tries in their biggest win of the season and became the first side to whitewash Saints in this competition.

Their emphatic win was sweet revenge for Leeds's 56-10 defeat at Knowsley Road in April and their Challenge Cup exit at the hands of Saints a month earlier, but Smith was not gloating, especially after being held to a 36-36 draw by lowly London Broncos last Sunday.

"I was looking for a response and I got it," he said. "It was the best performance I've been involved with since I've been here, but last week was probably the worst. That keeps our feet on the ground, because you can slip from one to the other very quickly. We've been humbled by Saints before so we're going to be pretty humble now."

Smith was more delighted with his side's defensive clean sheet than the try spree. "It's a remarkable achievement against a team like Saints."

Stand-off Danny McGuire and winger Marcus Bai both claimed hat-tricks, with McGuire taking his tally for the season to 28 to equal the Super League record set in 1996 by St Helens centre Paul Newlove.

McGuire played down his remarkable achievement, however, preferring to dwell on the team performance. "People have been talking about breaking records and, although it's great to equal Paul Newlove's record, I'm over the moon with the team," he said. The win is just as good as any of the tries I score. It was the best overall team performance I've been involved in."

St Helens, who badly missed inspirational skipper Paul Sculthorpe, were a sorry sight and have now conceded a century of points in two games after crashing 34-6 at Hull a week ago.

"It was very disappointing," admitted coach Ian Millward. "It was probably the worst loss in my time at the club. The guys are upset, but there is no individual blame. We are in this together and we need to do something about it.

"I know we were down on troops, but some individuals gave away too many penalties and our completion rate was 50 per cent."

Without Paul Sculthorpe, Saints were a shadow of the side who lifted the Challenge Cup. The match began badly for them, with Paul Wellens putting the ball dead from the kick-off, and never improved.

Leeds, undefeated at Headingley all season, hit their straps from the start, keeping the ball alive on the last tackle to present Bai with the game's first try after only 89 seconds.

McGuire also scored his first try on the last tackle, with Bai once more heavily involved, as the confidence oozed from the Rhinos.

The pacy stand-off grabbed his second courtesy of a break by captain Kevin Sinfield, and completed his hat-trick on 13 minutes after Bai had run the ball out of defence.

Sinfield kicked all four conversions and added a 20th-minute penalty to make it 26-0 before Saints rallied briefly, with strangely subdued captain Keiron Cunningham and Ricky Bibey both thrown back from the line and Wellens held inches short.

There were only brief glimpses of Saints' flair, and their defence crumpled. Bai skipped inside two flat-footed defenders to score his second try, and Wayne McDonald crashed over for his side's sixth just before half-time.

Sinfield missed only two of his 13 kicks at goal as Leeds went close to inflicting on St Helens their worst-ever defeat; so far, a 78-6 hammering by Warrington in 1909.