Rugby League: Crisis at Leeds deepens

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The Independent Online
Leeds . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18

St Helens . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .21

LEEDS failed to win for the seventh successive match, two tries early in the second half of an otherwise patchy St Helens display being enough to deepen the home side's crisis.

There were some better signs from Leeds at stages of last night's Stones Bitter Championship match, but their inability to hold Saints' outstanding attacker, George Mann, cost them any chance of ending their dreadful sequence.

The empty spaces on the Headingley terraces delivered their own commentary on Leeds' recent performances. However, after producing some of the error-strewn rugby that has been driving their supporters away, Leeds took the lead.

Graham Holroyd provided the pass for another of the side's youngsters, Marcus Vassilanopoulos, to provide hope that the long-term future might be better than the present. Almost immediately, though, Neil Harmon lost the ball in a tackle and Leeds allowed Andy Dannatt to barge over for a try, which was converted by Tommy Martyn.

The only further points of a scrappy first half came from penalties - one for Martyn and three for Leeds' Simon Irving, which gave them the lead. There were even some signs from Leeds' running that they might be waking from their long slumber.

That promise quickly evaporated as mistakes put Leeds on the defensive from the restart and Chris Joynt's strong drive created a try for Mike Riley. Martyn kicked an excellent conversion from the sideline.

Saints' rediscovered ability on the counter-attack saw them extend their lead. George Mann picked up a loose ball to run out of defence and was on hand at the other end of the field to send in Anthony Sullivan. Martyn missed the conversion but landed an offside penalty.

As Saints threatened to run away with the match, Holroyd raised Leeds' hopes again with a fine individual try. A drop goal from Gus O'Donnell, after a series of unsuccessful attempts, gave Saints some breathing space and even Alan Tait's last-minute try came too late for Leeds.

Leeds: Tait; Fallon, Iro, Innes, Irving; Holroyd, Stephens; Harmon (Scales, 65), Lowes, Rose (Scott, 58), Mercer, Eyres, Vassilanopoulos.

St Helens: Lyon; Riley, Veivers, Hunte, Sullivan (Prescott, 76); Martyn, O'Donnell; Neill, Dwyer, Dannatt, Joynt, Mann, Cooper.

Referee: R Smith (Castleford).