A try on the hour from the novice prop, Luke Burgess, brought Leeds a victory that put six points between them and the side they beat in last year's Super league Grand Final. It was a stop-start affair but when Leeds had to defend their slender lead they did so with passion and commitment.
As far as rugby was concerned, the first half was largely a non-event. Even from two sides who, until recently, disdained kicking for goal, most of the points came from penalties – one from Leeds' Kevin Sinfield to start it off, then three from Saints' Sean Long.
The sole try also stemmed from a penalty, an idiotic one conceded by Willie Talau for tackling Ryan Hall long before the ball arrived. This time, Leeds chose to apply pressure and Brent Webb found a gap from dummy half and sent Ali Lauitiiti over, with Sinfield adding the goal.
Lauitiiti's high-tackle on Leon Pryce gave Saints the springboard from which they regained their lead, Pryce appropriately supplying the scoring pass to Paul Wellens.
Leeds' crucial try came in predictably messy fashion, the young front-rower, Burgess, bludgeoning his way over after Wellens had dropped Sinfield's high-kick. Sinfield was on target with his conversion and was equally accurate with his tactical kicking thereafter.
Saints last chance disappeared when Talau's pass to Francis Meli went into touch off the winger's fingertips.
"I thought we outplayed them, but we couldn't find that final play or final pass," said Saints' coach Daniel Anderson. "We dropped our guard two or three times and they scored two tries."
Leeds played most of the game without their Great Britain standoff, Danny McGuire, who has damage to a thigh muscle the extent of which is not yet known.
St Helens: Wellens, Gardner, Gidley, Talau, Meli, Pryce, Long, Hargreaves, Roby, Graham, Gilmour, Flannery, Bennett. Replacements: Cayless, Wilkin, Clough, Fa'asavalu.
Leeds: Webb, Hall, Ellis, Senior, Donald, McGuire, Burrow, Leuluai, Diskin, Peacock, Jones-Buchanan, Lauitiiti, Sinfield. Replacements: Bailey, Scruton, Burgess, Worrall.
Referee: A Klein (Keighley).Reuse content