Rugby League: Hanley's winning return

Leeds Rhinos 12 St Helens 28
Click to follow
The Independent Online
CHRIS SMITH landed a hat-trick of tries in the second half to ensure that one of the more dramatic weeks in St Helens' history ended with them leapfrogging Leeds into second place in the Super League.

Smith's tries in the last 20 minutes decided a fierce and often brutal game which welcomed Ellery Hanley back from suspension, but an equally telling statistic was that Leeds played virtually the whole of a game without Adrian Morley, and another five players were sin-binned.

Morley was sent off after only 90 seconds for an obvious right hook on Paul Davidson after the St Helens forward had dropped a forearm on to him. Leeds got the penalty for the original offence, but Morley's retaliation was so blatant that he was already on his way to the dressing room.

The Leeds coach, Graham Murray, said: "You need 13 men against a side as good as St Helens. If you send someone off in the first two minutes, you've got to be 100 per cent positive that he's done some real damage." Murray also condemned Saints' overall approach to the game. "The only resemblance to a game of rugby league was that we kicked off," he said.

Iestyn Harris kicked Leeds into a six-point lead from three penalties, then Kevin Iro came close to putting Smith over before Paul Newlove took Tommy Martyn's pass to allow Anthony Sullivan to score.

The numbers were even for 10 minutes when Vila Matautia was sent to the sin bin, but Saints managed a second try during his absence when Sonny Nickle forced his way over from close range.

Leeds levelled two minutes into the second half through Daryl Powell's try, then Harris kicked the penalty to wipe out the one from Sean Long that had put Saints ahead. Smith squeezed in at the corner for his second, and in injury time Iro swatted off a series of tacklers down the right and Smith backed up for his third.

Hanley accompanied his players to the St Helens end of the ground, starting his press conference afterwards by emphasising that he had not climbed down in order to win his job back. He had come back, he insisted, for the fans and the players and this was very much their night. "Although they had 12 men, we had very little good possession and we had to defend very, very well," he said.

Leeds: Harris, Sterling, Golden, Godden, Cummins, Powell, Sheridan, Masella, Newton, McDermott, Morley, Farrell, Glanville. Substitutes used: Mathiou, Hay, St Hilaire, Rivett.

St Helens: Atcheson, C Smith, Iro, Newlove, Sullivan, Martyn, Long, Perelini, Cunningham, Davidson, Joynt, Nickle, Sculthorpe. Substitutes used: Tuilagi, Matautia, Wellens, Price.

Referee: R. Smith (Castleford).