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The only thing separating the Leeds Rhinos and St Helens on the league table was points difference, the Saints having performed much better in defence over their opening twelve games than the Rhinos, who had themselves scored more points.

Leeds won the round three fixture at the Totally Wicked Stadium, the first loss for Saints after they become World Champions, but after exiting the cup last weekend at the hands of the Wigan Warriors, that seems like a long distant memory for Rhinos fans.

The Saints were favoured by the bookies going into the game with the Rhinos given a six point start on the handicap coupon, but it would all depend on which Rhinos side, Jekyll or Hyde, showed up for the game.

The South Stand cheered the Rhinos to the opening points of the game when Ash Handley was on hand to take the pass after a fifty metre Rhyse Martin break after he stepped out of an attempted tackle. As Aidan Sezer limped off the field, Martin added the conversion for a 6-0 lead after as many minutes.

Just after the ten-minute mark the Saints opened their account when a delightfully weighted Jack Welsby pass put Tommy Makinson over in the right-hand corner to dive in and ground. Makinson was unable to add the extras, his side still trailing by two.

On twenty-one a high kick from Myler wasn´t taken by Welsby after Makinson tried to obstruct the Leeds chaser Sam Walters, Cameron Smith was on hand to pick up the loose ball and go over from ten metres out. Martin added the conversion for an eight-point advantage to the home side, but Walters headed off down the tunnel for a head injury assessment, Leeds running out of bodies.

On twenty-nine Harry Newman and Curtis Sironen clashed heads in the tackle, Newman also picking up yet another hamstring injury and having to be helped the field facing another long lay off. He was joined a minute later by Morgan Gannon who went over on his ankle in a tackle, Leeds down to just the thirteen men on the field.

Sam Walters grounded the ball short of the line on thirty-five, losing possession as he did, Leeds taking an eight-point lead into the interval.

Saints had a great start to the second half and on forty-five minutes a Lewis Dodd pass found Sironen to go over from five metres. Makinson added the conversion, Saints trailing by two points.

Justin Sangare juggled a Holroyd pass to take it at the third attempt a dive under the sticks, but the video referee ruled that Agnatius Paasi touched the ball in flight making the second juggle a knock-on as Saints breathed a sigh of relief.

Holroyd joined the Rhinos wounded on fifty-eight minutes, the Rhinos with an empty bench for the remainder of the game.

When Sangare tackled the Saints man off the ball on sixty-seven, Makinson took the opportunity to kick the penalty and level the score at twelve each.

With ten minutes left both sides set out their stall to win the game and started throwing the ball around with abandon.

A period of massive pressure on the Saints line on seventy-two started when Tee Ritson spilled a Myler high kick on his own twenty and on the last tackle following the scrum Saints knocked on as they tried to intercept the pass and following a Smith grubber Saints again put the ball to ground.

Temperatures boiled over with just over three minutes remaining which resulted in James McDonnell being red carded for Leeds. Saints went on the attack and Dodd attempted a drop goal which went wide of the left upright.

With forty seconds remaining Myler attempted a drop goal which barely got off the ground and the game went into golden point.

Saints got first use of the ball and Makinson attempted a long-range drop goal which fell well short of the target. On two minutes Handley had a stab at a drop goal, again wide and short and on the next set Dodd was also wide.

A cannonball tackle from Sione Mata´utia on Mikolaj Oledski gave the Rhinos a penalty and saw the Saints man yellow carded, the resulting penalty was short from Martin as the hooter sounded on the first period of extra time.

On their first use of the ball, Saints made good position but again Dodd was wide of the mark. Another Myler attempt was charged down on seven and a half minutes and when the Rhinos looked almost certain to score Myler put the ball to ground.

Thirty seconds from the end of the second period of golden point, Dodd finally landed a drop goal for the single point win for the Saints, heartbreak for a Rhinos side who had battled multiple injuries and given their all.

The game didn´t really deserve a loser but it was Saints who set the record straight after the third-round loss. It had been a titanic struggle with neither side really hitting their straps in front of a breathless crowd, and a breathless TV audience. Once again, only a drop goal separated these two sides.

Leeds Rhinos:  Myler, Olpherts, Newman, McDonald, Handley (T), Gannon, Sezer, Walters, O´Connor, Holroyd, McDonnell (SO on 77), Martin (2G), Smith (T).  Subs: Donaldson, Oledzki, Johnson, Sangare. 18th Man: Tindall.

St Helens: Welsby, Makinson (T, 2G), Hurrell, Hopoate, Ritson, Lomax, Dodd (G), Walmsley, Roby, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Sironen (T), Batchelor, Bell. Subs: Mata´utia (SB on 83), Lussick, Paasi, Wingfield. 18th Man: Bennison.

Half-Time: 12-4.

Full-Time: 12-12. Golden Point: 12-13.

Score Progression: 4-0, 6-0, 6-4, 10-4, 12-4 : HT: 12-8, 12-10, 12-12, (SO) : FT: (SB), 12-13 :GP.

Lead Exchanges: Leeds – Square – St Helens.

Referee: Liam Moore.

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Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Fri 26th May 2023 10:11 PM | Views : 5165 | Replies : 0 | BACK TO STORIES