Tom Makinson scored two tries in the last 16 minutes to help leaders St Helens snatch a thrilling victory over Leeds and maintain their 100 per cent record in the Super League.
Coach Nathan Brown has been insisting all along that the Rhinos are the team to beat in 2014, but he will need to look closer to home after his side’s tremendous win against the odds.
Leeds twice held the lead, courtesy’s of Danny McGuire’s 250th try of his career and three goals from returning captain Kevin Sin field. But, with the scores tied at 10-10, Sinfield was wide with a drop goal attempt six minutes from the end and Makinson pounced for the winning try four minutes later to condemn the visitors to their first defeat of the season.
It was a fitting way for Saints captain Paul Wellens to mark his record-equalling 413th Super League appearance, but the result was tough on Leeds’ Rob Burrow, who played the whole match at hooker in the absence of the ailing Paul Aiton and was his side’s most potent threat in an absorbing contest.
Jamie Peacock produced another prodigious effort for the Rhinos but St Helens’ spirited performance was illustrated by 19-year-old loose forward Andre Savelio, who was given his debut in the absence of seven first-choice players through injury and suspension.
Leeds were the first to settle and took the lead with McGuire’s landmark try on 18 minutes, supporting a half-back by Carl Ablett to produce a trademark finish.
Sinfield’s goal brought up his 3,500th point for the club and put his side into a 6-0 lead, but a knock-on from centre Kallum Watkins deep inside his own half put the visitors under pressure and they immediately cracked.
A strong burst from Savelio got Saints close to the line and loose forward Anthony Walker took James Roby’s pass to crash over for his first try of the season, only the second of his Super League career.
Makinson’s conversion levelled the scores and that was how it stayed for the next half hour. Leeds edged 8-6 in front with a penalty from Sinfield on 55 minutes.
When Saints broke clear, centre Josh Jones touched down, only for his try to be ruled out by video referee Phil Bentham for a knock-on in the build-up. However, there was no denying Makinson moments later.