Saints rekindle their fire to embarrass red-haired Leeds

St Helens 46 Leeds 6

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The Independent Online

St Helens' first match since the sacking of coach Royce Simmons produced an astonishing turnaround in form as they left Leeds, the side which has so often proved their nemesis, red-faced.

Jonny Lomax led the way with two tries and seven goals, but this was a vastly improved ream performance to mark the start of Mike Rush and Keiron Cunningham's caretaker regime.

"You put that down to the players," Rush said. "The shock has really hit home and they knew they had to fix things up. We tinkered with a few things and they seemed to play as though they were enjoying themselves."

Most Leeds players took the field with their hair dyed red in aid of Sports Relief. It was not long before their faces were a matching colour, so comprehensively were they embarrassed by Saints in the opening 11 minutes.

Displaying all the old verve and vivacity that has been missing so far this season, the team who were beaten by Leeds in last year's Grand Final ran in three tries in irresistible fashion.

The rout was kick-started by two influential players who have been missing over the past few weeks: James Roby kicked to the corner and Ade Gardner out-jumped Ryan Hall to complete the touchdown.

Three minutes later, Lomax spotted a gap from dummy-half for his first try, and when Gary Wheeler got on the end of some slick handling, the game was as good as won.

The Leeds coach, Brian McDermott, was adamant, however, that there was nothing wrong with his side's psychological approach – novelty hair-dos and all. "It was absolutely not about the red hair," he insisted. "This was in a fantastically good cause."

Be that as it may, the red-headed ones were soon lining up behind their own try-line again as Tony Puletua and Paul Wellens set up Lomax.

"Saints had plenty of motivation and they were unrecognisable from the last three or four weeks," McDermott added.

They continued that way after the break, with Wellens selling a dummy and sauntering through. Leeds got one back through Zak Hardaker, but their disarray was perfectly summed up by Kevin Sinfield, of all people, who failed to make the distance with a drop-out – a basic error that was immediately punished by Lance Hohaia's try.

Gardner and Wheeler then both claimed their second, leaving Rush, no doubt, to wonder what all the fuss and mystique is about in this coaching business.

St Helens: Wellens; Gardner, Shenton, Meli; Wheeler, Hohaia, Lomax; Laffranchi, Roby, Perry, Flannery, Wilkin, Puletua. Substitutes used: McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Flanagan, Clough, Magennis.

Leeds: Smith; Jones-Bishop, Watkins, Hardaker, Hall; Sinfield, Burrow; Leuluai, McShane, Peacock, Clarkson, Delaney, Ablett. Substitutes used: Kirke, Griffin, Moore, Ward.

Referee: P Bentham (Warrington).